In the culinary arts, the expression à la carte signifies a menu item that is priced individually, rather than as part of a meal.
For example, a grilled chicken breast a la carte would be served without any sort of rice or potatoes or vegetables with it.
À la carte can also refer to a menu in which the items are thus presented. The diner would then be free to order side dishes such as vegetables and potatoes separately.
You will often see this kind of menu at high-end steakhouses.
This is the opposite arrangement of a prix fixe (pronounced "pree feeks") menu, where a diner might order a pre-set array of courses, such as appetizer, main course and dessert, for a set price.
Common Misspelling: A la cart
See Also: Entrée