This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
The above very excellent bill is strictly in accord with the opinions and teachings of the hotel press, unless an exception be taken to the cigar line at the bottom, and particularly so in regard to the small number of dishes, the absence of "relishes," and the absence of headings. Here is an example from a hotel in the extreme South, but under New York management and running at four dollars a day, which uses headings and includes "relishes," and there are good reasons on this side of the question, too.
Spaghetti au Gratin, Piemontaise.
Bibs of Beef. Ham, Champagne Sauce.
Young Turkey, Stuffed.
Brant with Jelly.
Boiled Potatoes. Mashed Turnips.
Jelly Drops. Lemon Sherbet.
Roquefort, Edam and Orange Co. Cheese.
Waiters an furnished with Wine Cards.
Guests having friends to meals will please register at office.
Breakfast from 7 to 10; Sunday from 8 to 11.
The writer of these lines prefers to use headings, always writes his bills that way, considering that the hotel is an inn, a caravansary where people come as strangers, and the ways of the house should be made as plain as possible for them. Very few of these transients are "gastronomically educated," few of them, comparatively, have ever ordered from a bill of fare, and with a waiter standing by waiting for them to speak, they have trouble enough to order their meal intelligently even with the help of plain headings; the bill without headings must seem like a mass of dishes thrown together without order and without a purpose. Witness the following bill without headings, divisions or spaces, as it is found in a New York hotel paper. Possibly the original was better looking.
Boiled Redsnapper, Sauce Fiamande.
Potatoes Nature! Sautees au Beurre.
Turkey Boiled, Celery Sauce Smoked Jowl with sauerkraut Loin of veal stuffed, Sauce.
Sirloin of Beef larded a la Lithuanienne.
Sherbet au Citron.
Pate de Foie Grass Truffe Boned Chicken with Jelly.
Plain Lobster Tongue Etc.
Boiled Potatoes Mashed Potatoes Boiled Onions.
Rice Pudding, Port Wine S-iuce.
Vanilla Ice Cream.
Nuts Raisins Figs Fruits.
American, Rouquef ort, Brie and Neuf chatel Cheese cafe.
The reason given for omitting headings from the bill of fare is that it is more "tony" to do without them Their absence implies a compliment to the guests by the supposition that they are "gastronomically educated," that they do know the proper order of dishes and the locality in which to look for them without any guiding signs. It will be seen, then, that the bill without headings is proper for select family hotels, but not best for commercial hotels, railroad depot hotels, nor for the generality of resort houses. And if the bill without headings is desired in such establishments, the dishes should be few as in our first sample menu, so that they may be comprehended at once and the dinner selected with ease even by a stranger to hotel customs.