David G. Cox Esq.
Do what you can, with what you've got, where you are.
A La Carte: Dessert
An Expansion for A La Carte
Designed by Karl-Heinz Schmiel
Published by Fantasy Flight Games (2010)
I know exactly why I purchased A La Carte.
The designer, Karl-Heinz Schmiel, is one of my favourite designers who is responsible for fairly meaty designs such as Die Macher, Tribune, Attila, Tyranno Ex and Extrablatt. I assumed that A La Carte was going to be in the same vein. When I opened the box I was stunned at what appeared to be a kid’s toy kitchen, complete with stove-tops and frying pans. After playing the game I was actually very impressed with A La Carte as it has real strategy, soaked in probability and finely laced with a small amount of dexterity.
And I know exactly why I purchased Dessert.
Primarily it was to allow the base game (four players) to be played by up to five players. Little did I know that the small amount of additional rules really are sumptuous and add nicely to the game without adding any additional complexity.
For Those Of You Who Are Unfamiliar With A La Carte…
The object of the game is to cook five dishes and score more points than anyone else or to be the first to complete three PERFECTLY cooked dishes, in which case points don’t come into it.
In A la Carte you select a recipe and then try to shake the correct amount of spices from little spice bottles into your frying pan – if you shake too much seasoning into the recipe it will be spoilt and will have to be thrown out. You also need to roll the dice to try to get your stove-top to the correct temperature. If the temperature rises too high the recipe will be burnt and tossed down the sink (sink holes and a trash can come with the game). There is a strategy element, use of probability should be made when making decisions and there is an element of dexterity to shake the correct amount of seasoning – the spice bottles are not symmetrical and the angle at which you hold the bottle may affect the rate at which condiments flow out into the pan . Each player also gets one crepe which must be tossed/flipped to be competed – it is a fun game.
And Now For Dessert…
Dessert adds extra components, new components and some new rules. The expansion is SO yummy that I have thown away its box and all components are stored with the base game. I will always use the Dessert expansion when playing A La Carte in future.
1 Frying Pan
1 Condiment dispenser
20 condiments in four colours (5 each of lemon, pepper, paprika and herbs)
5 weird salt recipes
6 coffee cups
1 delicious crepe
1 tray for finished dishes
3 star markers for perfectly cooked dishes
16 menu cards
The New Rules…
The stove, tray, pan, crepe and stars allow a fifth player in the game.
The six coffee cups work the same as those in the original game but have two new icons on them – one allows you to salvage a new dish from the trash can and the other works as a flavour neutralizer so that you can remove seasoning from an over-seasoned dish.
The five new recipes all have salt as one of the ingredients.
There is a new condiment jar that contains the four different condiments but no salt.
The menu cards add a new challenge and generate additional victory points. Each menu card specifies particular menu items and you score extra points for being able to add them to your tray by the end of the game.
A la Carte is an excellent game for children, adults, families and serious gamers. Dessert represents the perfect finish to the perfect meal.
da pyrate wrote:
I will always use the Dessert expansion when playing A La Carte in future.
That made me track down my shrink-wrapped copy. Completely forgot about it. Concise review helps a lot - I bet it was hard not to add a bunch of fluff.
I like that there is a chance to remove a flaky rock from a dish, on 2 or 3 of the new coffee cups (I don't know for sure, mine is still in shrink, like I said).