As I learned last night, the Laguiole knife is a high-quality traditional French pocket-knife, originally produced in the town of Laguiole in the Aveyron region of southern France. The design dates from the early 19th century. The word "Laguiole", pronounced "la-yoll," is a generic term, not legally restricted to any one company or place of manufacture. Such knives are produced by a number of unrelated companies in southern France, some 70% of production coming from Thiers, a long-established centre of the cutlery industry. Thanks to their elegant and distinctive lines, as well as fine craftsmanship and expensive materials, they have achieved the status of a design classic and are sold for high prices, sometimes running into hundreds of dollars.
Meritage in downtown Boston uses these pretty knives (see attractive bee detail) as steak knives. As my friend pointed out, they are classy and quite expensive, but wait! Not all Laguiole knives are made the same!? Unlike the rest of the table settings, my knife handle was made from a cheap plastic-y material. It was also missing the adorable little metal bee.
Briefly I considered flagging down our battered waiter. I can picture it now:
Waiter reluctantly walks over to table of twenty-somethings who really have no place in such an expensive hotel restaurant.
"Could I possibly get a GENUINE Laguiole knife? With the bee intact, of course. I don't cut filet with plastic knockoffs."
In my opinion this comment really ought to be more well-received than our polite inquiry as to when we might get the wine pairing for our main course (perhaps sometime before we finished the dish?) The latter request certainly didn't go over well with the restaurant manager. He might have 'ah-hem'ed a bit before rather indignantly claiming the sommelier was opening a new bottle (only he didn't actually USE the word 'sommelier' since us un-edumacated twenty-somethings would have no idea what that is anyhow.) The waiter did finally come around to pour us the last dredges of a more recent vintage than listed on the menu. I suppose when the manager informed us that a new bottle was being opened, he didn't actually mean that bottle would be served to us.
Ah well, Restaurant Week has gone downhill over the past two years, what more can you expect?
Now, if only Laguiole made knives with butterflies on them...