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Vocabulary

Note: Many English words and expressions about food come directly from French. This is why some words about food are written with an accent (for example: à la carte). However, you may also see such words written without accent.

Vocabulary
part of speech
Meaning Example sentence
à la carte
adjective
without a side dish Is it possible to get the steak à la carte? I don't eat potatoes.
à la mode
adjective
with ice cream Would you like your apple pie à la mode?
alcohol, liquor
noun
a distilled liquid such as rum or whiskey This beer has 5% alcohol.
all you can eat
adjective
customers pay one fee and can eat as much as they wish These are all you can eat fries, so let me know if you want more.
appetizer
noun
small snack before a meal Would you like some garlic bread or another appetizer to start?
appetizing
adjective
looks pleasing to eat I'm afraid these pancakes don't look very appetizing.
apron
noun
a cloth covering worn over the clothes while cooking Remove your apron before you come out to the dining room.
awful (taste)
adjective
very bad taste The customer said that her pasta was awful.
bar
noun
place in an establishment where people go to get a drink (especially alcoholic drinks) If you sit up at the bar you don't have to order any food.
barbeque
noun/verb
southern style of cooking over a grill The barbeque wings are our specialty.
barstool
noun
tall seats that customers use at the bar The guest fell off his barstool before he even ordered a drink.
bartender
noun
staff member that mixes, pours, and serves alcoholic beverages I do part-time work as a bartender in a local pub.
beverage
noun
drink Can I bring you some beverages while you look at the menus?
bill, cheque, check
noun
the slip of paper that tells the customer how much to pay Table 3 would like you to bring them their cheque.
black coffee
adjective + noun
coffee without any milk Should I bring some cream, or do you take your coffee black?
boil
verb
style of cooking that involves placing food in a deep pot of extremely hot water We usually boil the potatoes first so that they will cook faster.
book off
verb
mark a day that you cannot work I need to book off the first week of May.
booster seat
noun
a plastic unit that fits on top of a chair to help small children reach the table Will your child be needing a booster seat today?
booth/bench
noun
type of seating in which people sit side by side on a cushioned area We'd prefer a booth if you have one available.
booze
noun(idiom)
alcohol You've been into the booze already, haven't you?
bottle opener
noun
a device used for opening beer bottles that don't twist off All of the servers keep bottle openers on their keychains.
bread basket
noun
slices of bread and butter served before and with a meal I'll bring you a bread basket to hold the kids down until dinner.
breaded
adjective
rolled and cooked in bread crumbs The shrimp is breaded in our homemade batter.
buffet
noun
self-serve tables of food that are set out for the customer to pick and choose from The plates and everything you need are up at the buffet.
burnt
adjective
overcooked to the point of turning black The toast is burnt around the edges.
buspan
noun
rubber tub used for collecting dirty dishes The buspan is stacked so high it's too heavy for me to carry.
busboy, busser
noun
a person who helps out in a restaurant (especially clearing and setting tables) Ask the busboy to help you bring out all of the food.
cash
noun
paper money payment I don't have any cash. Do you accept Visa?
cash out
verb
counting and submitting the payment of all of the customers bills at the end of one's shift Don't forget to include any coupons from tonight when you cash out later.
cashier
noun
staff member responsible for collecting customer's money at the front of an establishment We don't have a cashier; you have to pay your server.
charge
verb
to add a fee I will have to charge you an extra dollar to add ice cream.
check on
verb
make sure the guests are satisfied You should always check on your guests about two minutes after you serve the meal.
chef
noun
staff member who is professionally trained to prepare food Our head chef is one of the best cooks in town.
clear
verb
remove finished or unused items from a table You need to clear this table and set it for four.
cocktail
noun
an alcoholic drink with juice Would anyone care for a cocktail on this warm sunny day?
coffee maker
noun
machine that dispenses coffee into a glass container for pouring You need to teach the new waitress how to operate the coffee maker.
coffee round
noun
an offering of coffee and refills around a section of a restaurant Let's ask the busboy to do a coffee round while we take a smoke break.
combo, combination
noun
mixture The combo platter has veggies, ribs, and chicken fingers.
comment card
noun
a piece of paper that customers are given to record their dining experience When she asked for a comment card I knew she was going to complain about the food.
complaint
noun
a problem with service or food The guest brought his complaint to the manager.
condiments
noun
types of sauces that are added for flavouring (i.e. mustard) All of the condiments you should need are on the table.
cook
verb/noun
prepare and heat food until it is ready to serve The guest says that this chicken isn't cooked enough.
corkscrew
noun
tool for removing the cork from the top of a wine bottle. You will need to learn how to work a corkscrew before you start bartending.
counter
noun
flat area often used for placing dishes on or preparing food I left one of the salads on the kitchen counter by mistake.
coupon
noun
a slip of paper that offers the customers a discounted rate Your coupon is only valid for food, not for alcoholic drinks.
complimentary
adjective
free of charge The desserts are complimentary because the dinner took so long.
creamer
noun
small plastic container of cream for coffee Will you need more than two creamers for your coffee?
credit card
noun
a plastic card that allows people to pay for something later
You forgot to sign your credit card slip.
customer, guest
noun
person who goes to an establishment to be served It is our policy that the customer is always right.
customer service
noun
treatment of guests Our restaurant got the award for having the best customer service this year.
cutlery, silverware, utensils
noun
tools for eating with (fork, knife, spoon) In a fine dining restaurant the staff has to polish the silverware.
cut off
verb
stop serving a customer any more alcohol I cut off the man with the beard because he'd had too much to drink.
debit
noun
use bank card to pay directly from bank account Can we pay by debit here, or do you only take credit cards?
deep fried
adjective
cooked in a large pot of oil Most of the appetizers on our menu are deep fried.
defrost, thaw
verb
remove frozen food from the freezer to prepare Don't forget to defrost some pies for tomorrow.
delicious
adjective
very good taste The cookies were so delicious they were gone in half an hour.
delivery
noun
food brought to the home Do you have delivery or do we have to come in to eat?
designated driver
adjective + noun
person in a party who agrees not to consume alcohol in order to drive everyone home safely Is there a designated driver in your party or are you taking a taxi?
dessert
noun
sweet treat after a meal I think we're too full to have dessert tonight.
dessert tray
noun
a plate of all of the desserts that customers can view and order from I'll bring the dessert tray around and see if I can tempt any of you with a slice of cake or pie.
dirty dishes
adjective + noun
plates that customers are finished with I'll just clear these dirty dishes and make some room for you.
discount
noun
at a cheaper cost We got a discount because we are regular customers.
dishpit
noun
area in the restaurant where the dirty dishes are placed. Jody is not going to want to go into the dishpit today.
dishwasher
noun
the staff member/machine that washes the dirty dishes Can you bring the dishwasher these pans to clean?
doggie bag
noun
unfinished food that is packed up for the customer to take home I can't finish my steak, but I'll take a doggie bag.
double
noun
two shots of alchohol in one drink Make that a double in a tall glass, please.
draft
noun
beer from a keg that pours out of a tap We have a selection of local beers on draft.
dressing
noun
liquid topping for salads Would you like Italian or French dressing?
dry
adjective
no sauce I'll have dry toast with two eggs.
entrée, main course
noun
the largest part of a meal (after appetizer, before dessert) The entrées are after the lunch specials on page 6 of the menu.
fast-food
noun
an eatery that offers quick inexpensive food We don't provide table service. This is a fast-food restaurant.
fine dining
noun
a very expensive eating establishment The waiters wear bowties because it's a fine dining restaurant.
float
noun
small amount of cash used to make change at the beginning of a server or bartender's shift I need a roll of quarters for my float.
free refills
adjective + noun
beverages that can be filled again without any cost Have all of the soda you want; it's free refills here.
fry
verb
cook over an element in oil Don't fry the vegetables too long or they will go soggy.
garnish
noun/verb
food that is added to a plate for appearance or colour(i.e. parsley or fruit) Don't forget to garnish all of the entrees that go out.
glassware
noun
group of drinking glasses Make sure the glassware doesn't have any spots before you put it away.
gloves (plastic)
noun
covering for the hands to prevent the spread of germs Whenever you are handling food make sure you are wearing gloves.
gratuity/tip
noun
extra money given as a thank you for service When we have a large party we're allowed to add a 15% gratuity to the bill.
greet
verb
say hello and welcome customers to the establishment Your priority as a hostess is to greet the guests at the door with a smile.
grill
noun/verb
cooking over iron slats that allow for oil and fat to drop down The healthiest way to prepare meat is on a grill.
hairnet
noun
a covering worn on the head while preparing food If you don't want to wear a hat, you can wear a hairnet.
happy hour
noun
short amount of time when alcoholic drinks are on sale We're expecting a rush because it's almost happy hour.
highball
noun
alcohol served with soda Our highballs are on for half price today.
highchair
noun
a tall chair with a plastic tray designed for a baby The party is for ten plus a highchair.
hold
verb
leave off/without I'll take a hamburger, hold the bun.
homemade
adjective
made from a recipe We serve the best homemade soup in town.
host, hostess
noun
staff member in charge of greeting and seating customers in a restaurant Please wait and the hostess will seat you.
ingredients
noun
all of the different foods that are combined in a recipe I'll check the ingredients to make sure there aren't any nuts.
kettle
noun
pot for boiling water for tea I'll put the kettle on and make some fresh tea.
last call
noun
the last chance for a person to get an alcoholic drink before the establishment closes We'll have two more screwdrivers for last call.
lemon, lime wedge
noun
a small segment of lemon or lime put on the rim of a glass I'd like a lemon wedge for my ice water please.
lineup
noun/verb
a number of people waiting for something Is this the lineup to pay or get seated?
liqueur
noun
alcohol that has a syrupy/sweet taste Can I offer you a coffee liqueur to go with your dessert?
make change
verb + noun
give customers money back from a payment We can make change if all you have is large notes.
manager
noun/adjective
person in charge of a section of a restaurant I'd like to speak to the floor manager about the service.
melt
verb
warm to soften (i.e. cheese/butter) First, melt two tablespoons of butter in the microwave.
menu
noun
a booklet of all of the food that can be ordered Do you have a children's menu we could see?
microwave
noun
a small appliance that heats and cooks food quickly We can heat your dinner in the microwave if you like.
mild
adjective
not spicy I'd like a half dozen mild chicken wings.
nightclub
noun
establishment where adults go to dance and drink alcoholic beverages If you work at the nightclub you will have to stay until 2 AM.
non alcoholic beverage
adjective + noun
a drink that resembles a certain drink without the alchohol Can I order a non alcoholic beer?
notepad
noun
paper that a server uses to write down orders Just let me grab my notepad and I'll take your order.
on the rocks
preposition + noun
on ice I'll take a whiskey on the rocks.
on the side
preposition + noun
request for a food item to NOT be put on top of another food item For the nachos, can we have the sour cream on the side?
order
verb/noun
make a request to a server Is everyone ready to order lunch now?
over charge
verb
give a customer a bill that is too high (by mistake) I think you over charged us for our drinks; we only had one each.
pack up
verb
put in a take-out container for the customer to bring home Would you like me to pack up the rest of that pizza?
party
noun
group of people at or waiting for a table A party of twelve just walked in without a reservation.
patio
noun
outdoor seeating We closed the patio because it looks like it's going to rain.
paycheque
noun
money given to the staff every week or two You'll get a paycheque every other Monday.
pitcher, jug
noun
a container with a spout to pour water, beer, or other beverages out of We'll take a pitcher of beer with four glasses.
portion
noun/verb
a separate amount of food The chicken fingers are already portioned in the freezer.
pour
verb
dispense liquid from a container Can I pour you folks another glass of water?
prepare
verb
get food ready The servers have to prepare the salads themselves.
pub
noun
establishment that specializes in casual food and alcoholic beverages I can wear whatever I want when I work at the pub.
punch clock and punch card
noun
a machine that staff members place a card into when they begin and finish a work shift I don't want staff members hanging around the punch clock.
punch in, out
verb
put a card in the punch clock to mark the time you start and end a shift You can punch out as soon as you finish sweeping the floors.
punch something in
verb
enter an order into a computer system I'm going to punch in a large order now, so get ready.
rare
adjective
cooked meat that is pink inside This steak is too rare for me to eat.
recipe
noun
list of ingredients and instructions for preparing a certain type of food Our chef is so talented that he almost never bothers with a recipe.
regulars
noun
people who come into an establishment often You can give the regulars a complimentary drink from time to time.
reservation
noun
a request to have a table saved for a certain amount of people We don't take any reservations; it's first come first served here.
restrooms
noun
place for people to use a toilet and wash hands The restrooms are to your left and down the stairs.
roll-up
noun
a set of cutlery wrapped in a napkin Before we punch out we have to prepare enough roll-ups for the night shift.
rush
noun
a large amount of customers arriving at the same time We always have a rush after church on Sundays.
rush
noun/verb
prepare quickly for a certain reason Can you put a rush on this spaghetti; I forgot to punch it in.
sauce
noun
liquid flavouring added to food What kind of sauce would you like on your ice cream, butterscotch or chocolate?
schedule
noun/verb
a notice of the time and date each staff member has to work in a certain period of time If you want to book off a day, let me know before I make the schedule.
seasoning
noun
dry flavouring added to food He wants the chicken plain without any seasoning.
self-serve
adjective
the customers bring their own food items to the table and do not pay for service We have a buffet on, so it's self-serve for lunch.
senior's discount
noun
a reduced price for people over a certain age (i.e. over 65) We have a senior's discount of 25% off on Mondays.
separate cheques
adjective + noun/verb +noun
a different bill for each member/group sitting at a table We asked for separate cheques but it all came on one bill.
serve
verb
look after a customer, bring items to a customer Is there someone in charge of serving out on the patio?
set
verb
get a table ready with items such as cutlery and glassware I need you to clear and set table five for a party of eight.
shade
noun
place outside that is not in the sun We'd like to sit on the patio if there is any shade.
shot
noun
one ounce of alcohol served in a small glass (shot glass) Let's do a shot to get this party started.
shooter
noun
an ounce of alcohol and juice combined Is there a shooter that has orange juice in it?
side dish
noun
choice of food that goes with a main meal The two side dishes are mashed potatoes or french fries.
sour
adjective
acid or fermented taste I think the milk has gone sour from sitting out of the fridge too long.
sous chef
noun
staff member who works under and assists the main chef Our sous chef is leaving to become the head chef at another restaurant.
specials
noun
items that were prepared particularly for a certain day and are usually at a reduced price Would you like to hear the specials before you decide on lunch.
specialty
noun
food item that a restaurant is popular for Homemade fish and chips is our specialty.
spicy
adjective
hot flavour Any item with three chilies beside it means that the dish is very spicy.
stay
verb
to eat in the restaurant Are these coffees to go or to stay.
stir, mix
verb
spin round and round with a spoon Stir the soup for a few minutes before you serve it.
straw
noun
long hollow plastic stick for drinking out of Can I please get a straw for my ice tea?
straight up
adjective
alcoholic drink without any mix or ice He always has a straight up glass of rum after his meal.
substitute
verb
replace one item for another Can I substitute the carrots for corn?
supervisor
noun
staff member in charge of watching over things and dealing with problems When I'm not here George will be your supervisor.
sweet
adjective
taste with a lot of sugar If you like sweet things, you'll love our chocolate cheesecake.
take-out
adjective/verb
food that is packed up and eaten at home You can either eat in or order food to take-out.
two-minute check
noun
a visit to a table approximately two minutes after the food has been served to check for satisfaction Don't forget to do your two-minute check to make sure the steak is cooked properly.
terminal
noun
computer system for punching in food orders There's one terminal in the kitchen and one on the bar.
till
noun
drawer of a cash register that money is kept in You need a key to open the till and make change.
to go
verb
to take out of the restaurant We're just going to order a pizza to go.
toppings
noun
food items that go on top of other food items to add flavour What type of toppings would you like to have on your pizza?
uniform
noun
clothing that staff members have to wear The uniform here is black pants and a white shirt.
waiter, waitress
noun
staff member in charge of taking orders and serving food and beverages When I got promoted from a hostess to a waitress I started making tips.
waiting list
noun
list of groups who want a table to eat at We have a twenty minute waiting list tonight.
warm up
verb
heat food to an enjoyable temperature for eating Would you mind warming up the baby's bottle for me?
well- done
adjective
cooked for longer than average The meat was so well-done it had no flavour.
wine list
noun
a menu of all of the wine you can order from the glass, litre, or bottle You will notice that we have a lot of local wine on our wine list.
winery
noun
a place where wine is made, tasted, and sold There is another winery up the hill that you might enjoy stopping at.
wine tasting
adjective
sampling different types of wine If you are intersted in trying some wines you should go on a wine tasting tour.

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