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Prix Fixe or ALC

When l contemplate going to a restaurant, new to me or an old standard, l always check the menu either on line or call to find out. If there is nothing that attracts me to the menu l will pass on the restaurant and check periodically in the future to see if some menu item(s) attract me.
As a result of my menu issues l try to avoid Prix Fixe with little or no choice menus as invariably some if not many of the courses do not interest me, and either l eat them not happily or it just goes back to kitchen little touched.
What are your thoughts, or really votes.
ALC or limited prix fixe, if ONLY one way which would it be ?

l think due to financial issues, most 'fine-dining' spots will be prix fixe in the future.

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  1. Definitely ALC. There are too many things I don't like to be forced to eat a set menu. I avoid tasting menus for theis reason as well. Somehow I acn always fnd something to order on an ALC menu.

    I don't object to Prix Fixe when it is offered as choose one app, one main and dessert for X dollars and I have the range of the menu to select from.

    1. is that when you're home, or when you're over here in my neck of the woods?

      2 Replies
      1. re: sunshine842

        As your neck is my neck half the year, l have way more trouble lately in the states than in Europe. When l go to the new 'chef-inspired' restaurants as Saturne in Paris, l accept it, but l certainly don't go as often to that style as normal ALC.

        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

          I figured there would be a difference.

          I usually find that the PF is also what's really good and/or fresh today...so I usually go for that. If there's a choice I don't like, then I'll go ALC.

      2. I'm an a la carte guy. I like to compose a meal myself. I'm not always thrilled with prix fixe menus. There always seems to be one choice I don't like or seems forced.

        1. A local (Phila) restaurant, Matyson, develops a special prix fixe menu every week and e-mails notice of the menu. If the menu sounds like dishes I want to try, I go; if not, I don't.

          I've never been "forced" to eat anything since I have to order it first.

          I have responded without your parameter of either/or since that is not my experience. While they may exist somewhere, all of the restaurants from whom I havbe ordered prix fixe have at the same time offered a full "carte".

          So in my view, "l think due to financial issues, most 'fine-dining' spots will be prix fixe in the future" is an unrealistic view of the future of fine dining.

          1 Reply
          1. re: FrankJBN

            Didn't both Vetri and Lacroix both recently convert to prix fixe only? It seems to me there is a trend towards this in Philly. In fact, I think the OP spends some time dining in our fair city (and is pretty active on the Philly board).

            ETA: I prefer ALC myself.

          2. There are some restaurants I go to specifically for their prix fixe menu (e.g. Saison, Alinea, French Laundry, etc.), and for those restaurants I couldn't imagine going there and ordering a la carte.

            2 Replies
            1. re: ipsedixit

              Those restaurants do not offer the option of a la carte.

              1. re: pamf

                Exactly, had a super meal at both Per Se and Alinea, but at both would have preferred many courses to have 'disappeared' and have had more of the ones l liked. Would l have recognized them before eating the whole menu l doubt it, however.

            2. This is a hybrid answer, but the first time or two that I go to a restaurant, I prefer to order ala carte so I can order things I am comfortable with, be it a certain type of food or a specific preparation. Once I see how the chef handles things I know, then I can decide if I want to trust him/her with a fixed menu.

              1. Depends.

                Some places we go to regularly have a good fixed price menu and we have no problem in making a selection. They tend to be the neighbourhood bistro type place, although there's some high end places where it can offer big savings against ALC (I'm thinking of Michelin 3* Waterside Inn in Bray, UK where we ate the other week).

                Then there are the other places where the carte is the way to go. And these days, in general, we'll usually go for it, in preference to a multi-course tasting menu.

                Generally speaking I am always happier to be eating at a place where there is a short menu. Usually means the kitchen can concentrate on doing things well. Obviously, I'm excluding the cartes that might be available at places with a large kitchen brigade.

                1. For everyday, ALC, but for special places, prix fixe. I am often amazed at how much I love certain courses on tasting menus that I would have never ordered ALC. I see it as an opportunity to be pleasantly surprised by a chef who has hopefully put a lot of thought into an entire menu.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: akq

                    I agree. I have often experienced great food I woud never have ordered if it wasn't part of a set meal. Certainly there have been failures but the successes outweigh them. That said there are times I know what I want and I want what I know so I go to an ALC tat I know and love.

                    I also rarely browse menus before I go to a place, I rely on the write-ups and trust there will be someting good and something interesting.

                    I think I do this with movies as well, I love going to see films that surprise me, and I love to take chances. But then occasionally I like to crank the stereo up, order a take away curry, open a beer, and wallow in the familiarity of The Hunt for Red October (needless to say I can only indulge in this luxury whilst home alone).

                  2. At McDonalds, the constituent parts of a prix fixe #7 cost 47 cents more if ordered a la carte.

                    1. Usually, I prefer ALC, but sometimes a very special PF wins. A recent example was Topolobampo. Hadn't been to Chicago in 4 years and was dying to return. There were 3 PF menus. While the ALC menu had a lot of good choices, so did the PFs. My husband and I each ordered a different PF and shared. Even though we liked some courses better than others, being able to sample so much of the chef's creativity was such a great option in a restaurant we love and don't get to very often.

                      1. I don't like prix fixe. It has become de riguer at many 'serious' restaurants now, so much that a restaurant without it is seen as inferior.

                        My wife and I have worked in the theatre most all our lives and when we go out we are not looking for dinner as theatre. We just want to eat well. I don't want to be forced into many courses and a lengthy meal. Ok for an option, but not as an automatic commitment.

                        1. If only one way, ALC. But I love a good prix fixe menu when the chef really shines. I'm not a picky eater and tend to like professionals (in most aspects of life) to do their thing and put the control in their hands.