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
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.
small snack before a meal
Would you like some garlic bread or another appetizer to start?
looks pleasing to eat
I'm afraid these pancakes don't look very appetizing.
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.
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.
southern style of cooking over a grill
The barbeque wings are our specialty.
tall seats that customers use at the bar
The guest fell off his barstool before he even ordered a drink.
staff member that mixes, pours, and serves alcoholic beverages
I do part-time work as a bartender in a local pub.
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?
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?
type of seating in which people sit side by side on a cushioned area
We'd prefer a booth if you have one available.
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.
rolled and cooked in bread crumbs
The shrimp is breaded in our homemade batter.
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.
overcooked to the point of turning black
The toast is burnt around the edges.
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.
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.
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.
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.
staff member who is professionally trained to prepare food
Our head chef is one of the best cooks in town.
remove finished or unused items from a table
You need to clear this table and set it for four.
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
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.
a problem with service or food
The guest brought his complaint to the manager.
types of sauces that are added for flavouring (i.e. mustard)
All of the condiments you should need are on the table.
prepare and heat food until it is ready to serve
The guest says that this chicken isn't cooked enough.
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.
flat area often used for placing dishes on or preparing food
I left one of the salads on the kitchen counter by mistake.
a slip of paper that offers the customers a discounted rate
Your coupon is only valid for food, not for alcoholic drinks.
free of charge
The desserts are complimentary because the dinner took so long.
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.
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.
very good taste
The cookies were so delicious they were gone in half an hour.
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?
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.
at a cheaper cost
We got a discount because we are regular customers.
area in the restaurant where the dirty dishes are placed.
Jody is not going to want to go into the dishpit today.
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.
two shots of alchohol in one drink
Make that a double in a tall glass, please.
beer from a keg that pours out of a tap
We have a selection of local beers on draft.
liquid topping for salads
Would you like Italian or French dressing?
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.
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.
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.
cook over an element in oil
Don't fry the vegetables too long or they will go soggy.
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.
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.
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.
say hello and welcome customers to the establishment
Your priority as a hostess is to greet the guests at the door with a smile.
cooking over iron slats that allow for oil and fat to drop down
The healthiest way to prepare meat is on a grill.
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.
alcohol served with soda
Our highballs are on for half price today.
a tall chair with a plastic tray designed for a baby
The party is for ten plus a highchair.
I'll take a hamburger, hold the bun.
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.
all of the different foods that are combined in a recipe
I'll check the ingredients to make sure there aren't any nuts.
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.
a number of people waiting for something
Is this the lineup to pay or get seated?
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.
person in charge of a section of a restaurant
I'd like to speak to the floor manager about the service.
warm to soften (i.e. cheese/butter)
First, melt two tablespoons of butter in the microwave.
a booklet of all of the food that can be ordered
Do you have a children's menu we could see?
a small appliance that heats and cooks food quickly
We can heat your dinner in the microwave if you like.
I'd like a half dozen mild chicken wings.
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?
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
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?
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?
group of people at or waiting for a table
A party of twelve just walked in without a reservation.
We closed the patio because it looks like it's going to rain.
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.
a separate amount of food
The chicken fingers are already portioned in the freezer.
dispense liquid from a container
Can I pour you folks another glass of water?
get food ready
The servers have to prepare the salads themselves.
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.
cooked meat that is pink inside
This steak is too rare for me to eat.
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.
people who come into an establishment often
You can give the regulars a complimentary drink from time to time.
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.
place for people to use a toilet and wash hands
The restrooms are to your left and down the stairs.
a set of cutlery wrapped in a napkin
Before we punch out we have to prepare enough roll-ups for the night shift.
a large amount of customers arriving at the same time
We always have a rush after church on Sundays.
prepare quickly for a certain reason
Can you put a rush on this spaghetti; I forgot to punch it in.
liquid flavouring added to food
What kind of sauce would you like on your ice cream, butterscotch or chocolate?
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.
dry flavouring added to food
He wants the chicken plain without any seasoning.
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.
look after a customer, bring items to a customer
Is there someone in charge of serving out on the patio?
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.
place outside that is not in the sun
We'd like to sit on the patio if there is any shade.
one ounce of alcohol served in a small glass (shot glass)
Let's do a shot to get this party started.
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.
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.
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.
food item that a restaurant is popular for
Homemade fish and chips is our specialty.
Any item with three chilies beside it means that the dish is very spicy.
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.
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.
replace one item for another
Can I substitute the carrots for corn?
staff member in charge of watching over things and dealing with problems
When I'm not here George will be your supervisor.
taste with a lot of sugar
If you like sweet things, you'll love our chocolate cheesecake.
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.
computer system for punching in food orders
There's one terminal in the kitchen and one on the bar.
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.
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?
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.
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.