What Is a Prix Fixe; Menu?

Why Limited Menus Work

A restaurant table with woman reading a menu
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Prix Fixe literally means fixed price. It is a French term that refers to a type of menu featuring a pre-selected list of dishes at a set price. Prix fixe menus are most often found in upscale fine dining restaurants. Also known as a limited menu, prix fixe menus are ideal for special occasions, such as Mother's Day or Valentine's day and have become popular during annual Restaurant Week, held in major cities. Prix fixe menus are also used as an alternative for catered functions, as a way to feed a large crowd, but offer some menu selections within a certain price range.

 

What Comprises a Prix Fixe Menu?

A prix fixe menu may include an appetizer, soup, salad, entrée, and dessert all for a set price per person. Or, it may be a more limited selection such as an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert—but you need at least the three basic courses. While prix fixe menus are very common in Europe where they originated, most high-end American restaurants use them—but primarily at lunchtime except for those special occasions.

Why Use a Prix Fixe Menu?

Serving a prix fixe menu during busy days like Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, or New Year's Eve, can help keep a frantic kitchen under control. It allows the cooks enough time to prepare for a busy shift and can help keep a restaurant running smoothly on traditionally busy days. A prix fixe menu can also be run alongside an establishment's regular menu, to promote certain specials—especially seasonal ones. 

They Are Good Weeknight Promotions

A prix fixe menu can also double for a weeknight promotion. For example, a restaurant may try offering a pre-selected meal at a set price every Monday night as a way to bring in business during an otherwise slow time of the week. A sample Monday night prix fixe menu could include an appetizer of oysters on a half shell, followed by an endive salad, and an entrée of Chicken Marsala. Crème Brulee for dessert could round out this French-inspired prix fixe meal. This prix fixe menu could change weekly, to entice customers back for a new dining experience at an affordable price—such as Monday night becomes pasta night or Caribbean night or Greek night, and so on.

A Buffet Alternative

Prix fixe menus are also a good buffet alternative for smaller catered events, such as business luncheons, birthday parties, or wedding rehearsal dinners. Guests can choose from a preselected menu, which helps keep costs down for the host. The restaurant kitchen can have the food selections prepped in advance and then be ready to feed a large group in a timely fashion. 

How Do I Write a Prix Fixe Menu?

There are no set rules for choosing foods for a prix fix menu. It can reflect your regular menu and perhaps be a slightly dressed up version of your house favorites. Or, it can be a group of new specials you want to try out. Offering a limited prix fixe menu is also a good way to showcase local foods. Usually, a prix fixe menu is printed on a single sheet of paper rather than inserted into a menu jacket. Be sure to use good quality paper and specify that the selections are for a prix fixe meal. Each dish should have a brief description (one or two sentences) and you should either use your restaurant's logo or no graphic at all—avoid using clip art.