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Last Thursday, I joined three beet-loving friends in one of the tiny, intimate dining rooms on the lower level of Russia House‘s historic building at Connecticut and Florida avenues. Russian food doesn’t thrill everyone, but since I am part Latvian and one of my dining partners was of Ukranian descent, we were eagerly anticipating borscht, cabbage, and other delights from an unforgiving land.

While the service was very good—our waitress was most helpful explaining the dishes and offered suggestions for an “authentic Russian experience”—the company around our table was perhaps the most irksome I’ve encountered in a long time at a restaurant.

Three twentysomething women—let’s call them the “gaggle of geese”—were over by the window, with the ringleader demonstrating her dominance by being as loud and obnoxious as possible. Her performance, peppered with plenty of Omigods!, included cacophonous laughter paired with spastic arm movements across the table to show her friends something urgent and pressing on her phone. I turned around and gave Mother Goose the evil eye a couple of times. It failed to register. In fact, I think she may have thought I was flirting with her, which perhaps encouraged her annoying behavior even more. What I really wanted to do was take a spoonful of hot borscht and fling it her way. The older couple sitting right next to them sat silently, enduring the gaggle just like we were, with deathly cold-stone faces. I felt really bad for them.

The gaggle had a bottle of wine for the table and later ordered some chocolate martinis while they were still working on their entrées. Gross! You might be able to forgive their bad taste in cocktails, but not their bad behavior.

Where should the line be drawn? When should management step in and tell the amateurs to behave? When other diners start complaining? Or should they intervene before things get out of hand? Let’s hear your horror stories in the comments.

Photo by Flickr user noricum using a Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license