Table setting

Depending on what style of menu or service is on offer will depend on how the table is set, let's discuss these in length
A La Carte
Set menu

The following image is indicative of a formal setting, obviously this changes according to the service as discussed earlier.


How to Arrange a Place Setting for a Formal Dinner. Retrieved from,

À la carte and table d'hôte table settings. 

à la carte:

Place settings are called covers (French = couverts). The cover includes the place for each guest, and their crockery, tableware, glassware, cutlery and napkin. There are two basic covers in restaurants and which is chosen depends on whether the customer is choosing from an à la carte or table d'hôte menu. An à la carte menu offers a wide choice of individual dishes. A table d'hôte menu is a fixed price menu, with a set meal offering a number of courses. With an à la carte cover the cutlery, flatware and crockery for each course are laid just before each course is served. The traditional cover laid prior to the start of the meal is that suitable for hors d'oeuvre (the first course in a classic menu sequence).

Laying an à la carte cover:

1. Put the side plate down to mark the cover position.

2. Lay the fish knife and fork.

3. Place the wine glass above the tip of the knife.

4. Place the water glass slightly to the right and behind the wine glass.

5. Move the side plate to the left.

6. Place side knife on side plate (1/3 to the right of the plate).

7. Place the napkin.

Table d'hôte:
Table d'hôte cover requires the cutlery and flatware for the whole meal to be laid out before the first course is served. Place the side plate down to mark the cover position and then build the cover around this plate. With table d'hôte, surplus tableware is removed after the customer has placed their order. This is called the change cover. The reasons for this are: cutlery that is not required will only clutter the table, removing the cutlery can act as a memory prompt as to what the customers have ordered and it portrays a professional image to the customer. The cutlery is laid in the order the guest eats the courses- from the outside in. 

Guidelines for all table settings
  • To avoid overcrowding, allow approximately 60cm to 76cm for each setting. Place settings should be 2.5cm or a thumb knuckle from the edge of the table, and avoid centrepiece arrangements that obstruct the view of guests.
  • Do not place items such as coffee cups, tea cups, and/or dessert plates on the table if it crowds your guests. It is appropriate to bring those items to the table after the main course has been cleared and dessert  is served.
  • If a shortage of place settings is a problem, mix in pieces that do not match. Mix and match place setting has become a popular trend.
  • When deciding on a table centerpiece, keep it low. Large, tall centerpieces obstruct the view of your guests.
  • Choose an atmosphere that is appropriate for your gathering, an atmosphere that compliments your meal and encourages conversation. 

 Other glasses used

Try to answer these questions yourself:
1. With which cover is the cutlery, flatware and crockery for each course laid just before each course is served?
2. With which cover is surplus tableware removed after the customer has placed their order?

Below is a variety of establishments. Draw a template in your book like this and give an example of some standard settings for their table settings.

Personal area
Mis en place

A La Carte

Family bistro

Function menu