Prix fixe literally means (in French) “fixed price.” Usually, you choose a soup/salad/app, an entree and a dessert from a limited menu of soups/salads/apps, entrees and desserts; and any combination of the three are the same price.
It’s like when you get invited to a wedding and have to choose fish, chicken or veggie entree except in that case the newlyweds have to pay the fixed price and not you, so that’s a much better deal (for you) compared to anything.
Sometimes wine is added for an added fixed price, usually about $20 extra. It’s typically only upscale restaurants that do this on a regular basis, but they are also common during a city’s “Restaurant Week” or on special occasions/holidays.
The opposite of prix fixe is à la carte, which means you can order any item off the menu straight “off the cart” in any combination, basically like normal. Like “chicken with green beans and mashed potato” is one “item” “off the cart.” Sometimes restaurants offer both on the same night, sometimes not.
You will know there is a prix fixe menu because somewhere on the menu it will say so. I honestly can’t find an example right now. Sorry. But yeah, maybe you take your gal out for a nice Valentine’s Day dinner at a real fancy spot. You looked at the menu last week but when you get there GASP, it’s all different and there’s no individual prices, it’s just divided into three sections. There’s only 3-5 choices for each course (app, dinner, dessert), the menu is terrifyingly bare!
Because of this I HIGHLY advise that if you are a picky eater and are going to a more upscale restaurant than usual on a holiday such as Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve, etc. you check to see if there’s a prix fixe menu for that night before you make reservations. Usually 1-2 weeks prior the website will note if there is or not. You don’t wanna show up and find that the one dish you were gonna like isn’t being made that night.
Do you save money by choosing prix fixe when there’s a choice? If you were gonna get all three courses anyway then you probably save a few bucks. It kind of depends. You’re out at an expensive restaurant so I say just enjoy it at that point.
In conclusion, you know, we can all appreciate prix fixe because at Arby’s you can choose curly fries or regular fries but it’s still the same price. But no one in their right mind would choose regular fries. So dumb.
This post was brought to you as part of the “Fine Dining for Fools, by Fools” series, where this middle class foodie fool translates usually French words common in high end restaurants for you fools to feel smart at your next upscale event you’re invited to or special occasion.