General English Vocabulary for Dining Out in Restaurants
booking - an arrangement made with a restaurant in advance, to eat there a particular time.
a party - a group of people who arrange to eat together. Example sentence: "I would like to book a table for a party of five, please. Can you fit us in at seven o'clock?"
menu - a printed list of meals that a restaurant serves.
set menu - a list of dishes you can order together (such as a main meal, a starter & a dessert) for a set price.
drinks menu / wine menu - a list of soft drinks and alcoholic drinks that you can choose from.
today's special/specials - extra dishes cooked on the day, which are not on the main menu.
cutlery - knives, forks, and spoons.
napkin - a cloth or folded piece of soft paper that you use to mop up spilt food. In the UK, people eating out would usually place a napkin on their lap, to catch spilt food or drinks.
starter - the first course of the meal. Small portions of food, served either hot or cold. You might decide to skip this course if you are not very hungry.
main course - the main part of the meal. Medium to large portions of food, served either hot or cold. In the UK, main meals (or mains) are usually served with vegetables.
side dish - a small portion of food. Typically bread, salad, or vegetables in sauce, that you eat with a main meal. Side dishes are often shared with other people eating at your table.
dessert - the last course of a meal. Typically a sweet dish, such as cake, pudding or ice-cream. Alternatively, a savoury dish like cheese and biscuits may be offered as the final course, instead.
vegetarian option - dishes suitable for people who don't eat meat or fish.
vegan option - dishes suitable for people who don't eat meat, fish, dairy, or any other animal products.
tip - a small sum of money often given to restaurant staff, for good service.
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