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6 Course Dinner

A 6 course dinner consists of an appetizer or hors d’oeuvres, soup course, salad course, fish course, your main course, and a dessert course. You can also add a mignardise course, which is a single bite-sized snack.

Each course requires a different type of plate or bowl and silverware. Remember to place the plates in order of course, and follow utensil etiquette.


A full course dinner usually begins with appetizers or hors-d’oeuvres. These small servings don’t include red meat and are served before the main courses.

Salads and raw vegetables are a popular choice for an appetizer or hors-d’oeuvre. Serve these with a savory dip, such as tapenade or hummus, for added flavor and texture.

Chips and other party snacks are an easy appetizer that’s sure to please everyone. Experiment with dipping sauces like creamy cheese fondue or skillet queso to make your appetizer buffet more interactive and enjoyable for guests.

A palate cleanser is a dish that removes residual tastes from the mouth before the next course. For a full course menu, this may be a light salad or a fruit course. For a heavier meal, this could be a second course of red meat such as premium cuts of beef or lamb or even game meats like deer.


Soup is a classic course that can stimulate the appetite or hint at flavors to come in the other courses. The general idea is to avoid soups that are too hearty so that guests do not fill up before the main course.

Some soups are best served chilled and many can be made ahead of time. The best ones pair beautifully with a glass of chilled white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or Albarino.

Some of the classic ideas for a soup course include a grilled cheese soup, vichyssoise or a classic tomato soup. Many of these types of soups can be garnished with chopped herbs, sliced green onions, cheese shavings, a sprinkling of croutons or dollops of yogurt or sour cream. This will add flavor and interest to the soup.


Salads are an excellent palate cleanser between each course. They can be a combination of cold or hot foods such as vegetables, pasta, grains and fruit. They can also be served as a filling appetizer, entree or sandwich filling.

Americans typically serve salads before their main dishes but in some parts of Europe they are often served after the main dish. The reasoning behind this is that it helps keep diners from overeating during their main course meal and the salad provides a refreshing finish to the dining experience before cheese or dessert.

One person we know always saves her salad until last so it is piping hot when she eats it. Another person never eats his salad until after the main course because he says it’s a waste of a good salad.

Main Course

The main course is the largest portion of the meal. It is often followed by a cheese course and dessert. This is the time to be creative and work on a theme for your dinner. You can take your diners on a culinary world tour by serving dishes from each continent, or you can stick to the cuisine of one region.

Start the dinner with a light antipasti, such as bruschetta topped with tomatoes and Italian herbs. This should be followed by a salad with citrus sorbet or a hearty riboletta. A second course may feature fish or poultry. If you’re sticking with an Italian theme, chicken marsala or grilled fish steaks are good choices. Palate cleansers such as citrus sorbet are important at this point to remove residual tastes before the next course.


Dessert is a course of a meal that comes at the end and is usually sweet. Desserts include cakes, pies, pastries, puddings, fruit salads and more. A cheese platter is also a common dessert.

Dessert can be served with a glass of wine, tea or coffee. It is also often accompanied by mignardises, which are bite-sized desserts.

If you are serving a six-course dinner, it is important to serve courses quickly and efficiently. Ensure that you have enough dinnerware and silverware for each course. Remember to remove the plates from the table between courses and to follow utensil etiquette. Also, be sure to clear away unused dishes and the charger from the table before starting another dish. This will give guests room to stretch out as they eat.

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