We just completed our play of A la carte, and it was delicious!
Pat read the rules beforehand and walked Denny and I through. As we remarked when we opened up the game, the components are extremely high quality. In this case, the physical nature of the game really supports that. I don’t think the expense of the components is wasted; rather, it spices up the game nicely.
It took us just under an hour to finish our game, and I think you could reasonably trim that time even further as you get comfortable with it. The rules were very well laid out, and Pat did a good job shepherding us along. This was a very easy game to get on the table, and I imagine it will continue to spend time there.