If you want to know about dining etiquette, book a table in a high-class restaurant. That’s where you get a chance to watch moneyed society and silver service in action.
This week we took lunch at the two Michelin-starred restaurant Le Mariottat in Agen, the capital of the département of Lot-et-Garonne.
It’s tucked away in the centre of Agen, Le Mariottat is like an oasis in the otherwise slightly underwhelming town. Set in beautiful grounds, hidden behind a stone wall, it has all the understated grandeur you could wish for.
We took the 3-course lunch menu. Plenty of amuse bouches, intercourse palate cleansers and post-prandial surprises meant it felt as though the food never stopped coming.
After champagne, we accompanied our meal with a white wine from Duras and a red from Cahors – making it a day of some of the best this corner of south-west France has to offer.
The service was impeccable. Our sommelier served each wine as if it were the very last bottle of its kind. The waiters, too, handled the food with great care and introduced each dish.
The etiquette of good service is fascinating to observe. The waiters served the women first, before turning to the men, working their way up to the eldest man at the table.
“I watched this, at first amused – and then in horror, as I realised that I was to be the last man to be served”
I watched this, at first amused – and then in horror, as I realised that I was to be the last man to be served. I’d have minded less if the man opposite me hadn’t been at least 15 years my senior.
Don’t talk to me about etiquette. It’s over-rated.