Game Length: 30 minutes
Best enjoyed: With snacks, so you don’t get too hungry!
A la Carte is a light game about trying to cook meals from unreliable spice jars that are as likely to ruin your dishes as provide that last piquance needed for a true masterpiece.
What makes A la Carte special is the attention to detail paid to its components. I mean, look at this!
Yes, each player gets their own tiny papercraft stovetop complete with turnable heat dial and real metal saucepan! That is, the saucepan is made of metal, not that you could actually put it on a stove. Please don’t put it on a stove.
Players will take turns selecting dishes from the middle of the table. Some dishes are harder than others though, and will earn the player more points for completing them. To cook a dish, you need to turn up the heat to the right amount, and make sure enough spice has been added. To spice your dishes, you take one of the spice jars and upturn it in a fluid motion, leave it upside down, then turn it back – the amount of spice that comes out is random, and you have a chance of accidentally adding dish-ruining salt in any attempted pour. The shape of the bottle and spices will prevent everything from flowing out at once, and you are discouraged from trying to ‘tap’ the right amount of spice into the dish.
On top of the normal dishes, there are also crepes. These are represented by circular tokens that fill the base of the saucepan. To cook a crepe, the player must turn the heat up, and flip the crepe in the air so that it lands in the saucepan on the opposite side. If you aren’t successful, though, the heat will be turned up on your dish – if it gets too hot, it will burn!
Don’t go into A la Carte expecting any opportunities for tactical masterstrokes, though. It’s excellent as a light, short game in between other, heavier games, or as an introduction to the more light-hearted side of boardgaming for newcomers.