30 Sec Answer: A classic menu typically includes 17 courses, beginning with an appetizer and ending with a sweet course. The in-between courses are typically soup, fish, entrée, sorbet, cheese platter, salad, side dishes and dessert.
Food is often considered one of the most important components of any special event or celebration. When it comes to planning an unforgettable gathering or party, the menu is key. From the type of cuisine served to the number of courses offered, every detail should be thought out carefully. A traditional menu generally consists of 17 separate meal courses, each presenting its own flavor profile and adding something unique to the overall experience. In this article, we’ll explore what exactly those 17 courses are and how they work together to create a memorable feast for your guests.
The first course on a classic menu is the appetizer. This light dish serves to whet guests’ appetites and introduce them to the flavors of the evening ahead. Some common options include seafood dishes such as shrimp cocktail or oysters on the half shell; cold items like gazpacho or melon carpaccio; hot bites like crab cakes or stuffed mushrooms; and small plates such as bruschetta or crostini.
Soup can come in many forms, from chowders and bisques to consommés and veloutes. While it is usually served as a liquid dish between appetizers and main entrees, it can also be eaten before desserts if desired. Common soups include French onion soup with Gruyère cheese melted over the top; roasted butternut squash soup topped with pumpkin seeds; creamy tomato soup made with fresh herbs; lobster bisque garnished with crème fraîche; and chilled cucumber soup served with pickled vegetables.
This course typically follows soup in order to give diners time to digest their food before eating more protein-heavy fare. It usually consists of some form of cooked fish – grilled salmon, pan-seared sea bass, poached cod – that has been seasoned lightly with herbs and spices. The presentation should be delicate yet creative; think artfully arranged filets alongside seasonal vegetables drizzled with sauce or broiled oysters glazed with buttery citrus juices.
Once everyone’s taste buds have been sufficiently teased by lighter fare like soup and fish, it’s time for the main attraction: the entrée! This protein-based dish can range from beef tenderloin or rack of lamb dressed up with a flavorful glaze to vegetarian specialties like vegetable lasagna layered with cheese and béchamel sauce. Other popular entrées include pork chops braised in apple cider, chicken sautéed in white wine and butter, steak frites served with shallot butter sauce and wild mushroom risotto cooked in truffle oil.
A palette cleanser between heavier meat dishes and desserts is essential for keeping guests satisfied without overstuffing them. Traditionally, this role is filled by sorbet — a frozen fruit-based dessert made from pureed fresh fruits blended with sugar syrup — which helps cut through fatty flavors while still offering a sweet finish to dinner. Serve individual scoops of strawberry or peach sorbet garnished with mint leaves for an elegant refresher after dinner.
What better way to transition into the next stage of dinner than a delectable plate of cheeses? Guests will love having the chance to sample various types of cheese ranging from soft ripened varieties like Brie de Meaux or Camembert de Normandie to harder textures like cheddar and Swiss Gruyère. Be sure to pair each selection with different accompaniments such as honeycomb chunks, walnut bread slices or dried apricots so guests can fully appreciate each flavor profile.
No classic menu would be complete without a crisp salad packed full of nutrient-rich ingredients like leafy greens (arugula, spinach), crunchy vegetables (radishes, tomatoes) and protein sources (nuts, feta cheese). Dressings can range from traditional vinaigrettes made with olive oil and lemon juice to creamy creations flavored with garlic mayonnaise or Dijon mustard. Make sure you provide plenty of dressing options so that even finicky eaters can find something they enjoy!
Side dishes provide added texture and flavor that complement each course’s featured ingredient — think mashed potatoes paired with steak frites or jasmine rice accompanying teriyaki chicken skewers. Popular sides include roasted root vegetables tossed in herbed butter; macaroni gratin topped with mozzarella cheese; green beans sautéed in garlic butter; twice baked potatoes smothered in cream sauce; steamed broccoli drenched in lemon juice; creamed spinach mixed with bacon bits; ratatouille mixed with eggplant cubes; quinoa stir fry loaded with colorful veggies…the list goes on!
Breads & Rolls
Breads add warmth and substance to any meal—not to mention delicious carbs! For a classic menu offering rolls are always welcome additions: crusty sourdough loaves; flaky brioche buns infused with sweet honey butter; rosemary focaccia topped off with Parmesan cheese shavings…the possibilities are endless! To offer an even wider variety consider including both wheat-free and gluten-free breads for guests who have dietary restrictions .
For added richness sauces/gravies should accompany all proteins featured on the menu. These don’t have to be complicated either — simple combinations like caramelized onions simmered in red wine reduction can make basic meats feel luxurious while creamy Hollandaise dressings turn boring veggie dishes into culinary works of art! Just make sure there’s enough sauce available so everyone gets just enough flavor enhancement without drowning out their meal entirely.
Nothing adds sophistication to a dinner table quite like specialty drinks created specifically for the occasion! Offer champagne cocktails as an aperitif upon arrival; pre-made pitchers of sangria at the start of dinner ; interesting non-alcoholic sips such as fruity punch bowls during intermissions ; signature “martinis” containing unusual spirits like elderflower liqueur towards dessert ; after dinner cordials featuring nutty amaretto ; coffee shots flavored Irish whiskey–or whatever your imagination conjures up ! Whatever beverage choices you make , ensure they fit seamlessly within your theme .
Coffee & Tea Service
Hot beverages help end meals on a comforting note — plus they’re great conversation starters during after dinner conversations ! Presentations can range from classic pots o’ joe accompanied by demitasse cups espresso beans , sugar cubes assorted tea bags , herbal infusions , organic honey sticks chocolate covered espresso beans—you get idea .
Many classic menus end on sweet notes through decadent desserts ! Rich pastries , airy mousses richly flavored ice creams indulgent tortes molten lava cakes , spiked tarts …the sky’s limit when dreaming up sugary offerings ! Additionally , miniature petit fours stylishly presented éclairs other tiny treats make lovely parting gifts for guests .
After sweet courses have finished allow diners bit extra pep their steps sending home . Digestifs traditionally served following elaborate meals primarily promote digestion provide pleasant farewell . Choose from wide array coffees brandies schnapps liqueurs local craft beers aged whiskies – whatever libation suits fancy guest preferences tastes