What is a Prix Fixe Menu?

A prix fixe menu offers guests a multi-course meal for a fixed price. In most circumstances, guests will have options to choose from for each course. In some cases, the entire meal is planned and selected ahead of time by the chef. In this blog, we'll introduce what prix fixe menus are, how they work, and the advantages and disadvantages associated with them.

Prix Fixe Menu Definition

Prix fixe (pronounced pree-feks), is the French term for “fixed price.” Sometimes referred to as a table d’hote, a prix fixe menu typically features a full-course meal consisting of an appetizer, entree, and dessert. It’s important to note that some prix fixe menus feature more than the typical 3-course meal, while others may feature less.

How Does a Prix Fixe Menu Work?

colorful plates of food on white plates on white table

There are several different ways that a prix fixe menu can work. Below, we’ll investigate some of the most popular options:

  • Individually: In most cases, a prix fixe menu is ordered individually.
  • Shared: Some restaurants offer a prix fixe menu for two at a set price. This can consist of two smaller meals or one larger meal to be shared.
  • Platters: Select restaurants may offer a shared tapa, entree, or even dessert platter for an entire table at a fixed price per person.
  • Buffet: In some cases, a restaurant can offer a buffet-style menu at a fixed price per person.

Prix Fixe Menu Examples

hands gathering white and red wine glasses for a cheers

Prix fixe menus are typically found at fine dining or contemporary casual restaurants and can be used for several different occasions. Below, we’ve included examples of events, occasions, and situations where a prix fixe menu might be beneficial:

  • As a tasting menu: In some cases, a prix fixe menu can serve as a tasting menu of sorts. A tasting menu is a multi-course meal that consists of small portions of different dishes, many of which showcase the chef’s skills or highlight local flavors.
  • For a special occasion: Many restaurants may offer price fixed menus for occasions such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and New Year’s Eve. Not only does this set a special tone for the day, but it also provides a convenient way for restaurants to prepare ahead of time for the large crowd.
  • For weeknight dining: If your restaurant usually experiences slow weeknights, consider offering a special weeknight prix fixe menu. Doing so can prompt customers who wouldn’t normally dine during the week to visit your restaurant.
  • Incorporated on your everyday menu: Some restaurants choose to implement a prix fixe menu alongside their everyday menu. This allows them to appeal to different guests and offer different pricing options. Other restaurants might offer a prix fixe menu for lunch, creating a unique happy hour promotion.

Prix Fixe Menu Advantages

charcuterie board on table with woman and other person holding red wine glasses out of focus

Prix fixe menus offer significant benefits that can improve the happiness of your guests and reduce stress on your staff. Below, we’ll introduce some of the most notable advantages associated with a prix fixe menu:

  • Makes ordering easier: According to menu psychology, offering fewer choices on your menu can reduce stress on customers and make ordering more convenient.
  • Creates memorable experiences: In some instances, a prix fixe menu can help to create a special experience for your guests. Not only will they have the ability to experiment with different foods, but they may be enticed to come back.
  • Convenient for large crowds: Whether it’s a special occasion such as Restaurant Week or a busy holiday, prix fixe menus allow you to manage large crowds. With a set choice of dishes, back-of-house staff can easily prepare for the crowd without sacrificing quick service.
  • Increased sales: If your menu is correctly priced to maximize your bottom line, a prix fixe menu should ultimately optimize sales in your restaurant. Guests who take advantage of the deal will be treated to more food than they typically would order at a slightly higher price, boosting sales while keeping them satisfied.

Prix Fixe Menu Disadvantages

While prix fixe menus feature a variety of benefits, there are still potential downsides. Below, we’ve included a list of the most common disadvantages associated with offering them:

  • Market changes: The price of ingredients can fluctuate over time. In some cases, the ingredients for a dish on your prix fixe menu can dramatically increase, leaving you with the decision to either remove that dish from the menu entirely or lose profits on it.
  • Financial commitment: Some high-priced prix fixe menus can deter customers from ordering.

How to Create a Prix Fixe Menu

chef holding white plate with steak, shrimp, and assorted colorful vegetables

Whether you’re putting together your first prix fixe menu or are looking for tips to improve your existing menu, there are many different details to take into account. Below, we’ve listed some of the most common:

  • Analyze sales: Figure out which of your items sell the most, and create a prix fixe menu that incorporates those dishes.
  • Keep margins in mind: Include high profit margin items to make your prix fixe menu lucrative.
  • Highlight seasonal foods: Feature seasonal items, such as fruit and vegetables. Not only does this resonate with health-conscious, environmentally aware patrons, but the lower purchase price of seasonal items will be beneficial to your bottom line.
  • Embrace a theme: Ensure that all dishes are cohesive together to create continuity throughout the courses. Try basing the meal off the season, a region, or a certain mix of flavors.
  • Focus on the main course: However you choose to structure or create your meal, make sure that it can provide a high-quality main course.

Offering a prix fixe menu is an excellent option for restaurants and guests alike. Whether for a special occasion or as a permanent part of your restaurant menu, fixed-price menus have the potential to increase guest satisfaction, quicken up service, and improve your bottom line.

Posted in: Management & Operation|By Hannah Herrera
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