The courses

I’m never sure where to put the salad and cheese courses in a meal. Should they go at the beginning or the end? And what about ices?

The order of courses in a meal is mainly determined by personal preference, though the number of courses also comes into play. For simple meals, the salad and any cooked cheeses (cheese wrapped in pastry, warm goat cheese on salad, baked brie, etc.) are a fine way to start. For multi-course meals, cheeses are best served at the end, as is salad, which is said to aid digestion.

Traditionally, an ice or sherbet was used to divide the meal into two parts. You can serve it just before the main course to provide a breather or at the end of the meal as a refreshment. Here are two examples of a logical sequence:


  • Salad or appetizer
  • Main
  • Dessert
  • (sherbet, etc.)


  • Hors d’œuvres
  • Cold appetizer
  • Hot appetizer
  • Soup
  • Ice
  • Fish or seafood
  • Poultry
  • Meat
  • Salad
  • Cheese