The only wide eyes in the place were mine, at the next table. After all, the venerable Swiss resort of St Moritz has been the home of conspicuous consumption for so long that there's really nothing conspicuous about it any more.
Lap of luxury: Badrutt's Palace is the town's best known five-star hotel
Certainly, there was no obvious relish in the way the Middle Eastern couple who had just been served dipped their chips into the caviar. It might have been ketchup for all the swooning they did. Indeed, their two children, with their own bowl of unadorned chips, seemed to be enjoying their lunch more. Unsmiling decadence; the preserve of the truly rich.
The restaurant was La Marmite, where Naomi Campbell, Ivana Trump and world heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko hang out when they're in town, although not together, more's the pity for the gossip columnists.
La Marmite is at the top of the Corviglia mountain railway and glories in its distinction as the highest gourmet restaurant in the Alps, and in its commensurately high prices.
The head waiter told me with no little pride that owner Reto Mathis buys in 140 lb of caviar for the winter, and that between five and eight times a skiing season, on average, a customer will order the 'Shangri-La' - 2 lb of Oscietra to share, at a cost of about £3,500. In St Moritz, the double-dip is not a recession but a bowl of glistening sturgeon roe at each end of the table.
The waiter also told me that in a half-decent season they would fully expect to shift one or maybe two magnums of 1988 Chateau Petrus, at £7,000 a bottle. Weakly, I asked him what was the biggest bill he could recall. It was nearly £42,000, for a 50th birthday lunch.
Lunch for 20? For 30? No, for six. Russian oligarchs? Arab princes? American industrialists? Actually, he said, they were Poles. And this winter, as it happens, the big spenders on the mountain are Indians. Rich Russians are far more plentiful but they don't order the caviar, not on account of the cost but because it's Chinese.
Still, what the Russians save on the mountain they spend in the town, and then some. According to our Slovakian ski guide, Slavo, the Russians and Italians are the most dedicated shoppers in St Moritz. But where the Italians spend two hours enthusiastically browsing and then buy one dress or shirt or watch, the Russians flash their platinum cards half a dozen times in ten minutes.
Pre-war peak: An English couple have fun in St Moritz in 1930, when the resort was a magnet for the British
Maybe it's because they spent so long shackled by communism that they are such impatient spenders. Slavo wasn't sure. But he was very grateful that, as a schoolboy grow-ing up in Czechoslovakia before the Velvet Revolution, he had been compelled to learn their language. It didn't seem especially useful at the time, but now it's the handiest of professional assets, for there aren't too many Russian speakers among the guides in St Moritz, where 80 per cent of ski lessons are private, much higher than in most resorts. And among his most regular and generous customers, Slavo counts more than a few oligarchs.
Broadly speaking, the Russian oligarchy divides its Alpine holiday custom between St Moritz and the expensive French resort of Courchevel, favoured by Roman Abramovich. There is more ski-in ski-out accommodation in Courchevel, but St Moritz has the ritzier shopping. On the main street, Via Serlas, Gucci rubs silky shoulders with Louis Vuitton, Chanel and jewellers Van Cleef & Arpels. Jimmy Choo and Tom Ford are the newest kids on the block. They opened just before Christmas: one can only wonder what took them so long.
Far more established are the town's six five-star hotels, of which the best-known is Badrutt's Palace, still owned by the descendants of Johannes Badrutt, who in 1856, when St Moritz was just a working village, opened an upmarket inn and called it the Kulm.
For the next 100 years or so the British came to the Kulm in greater numbers than any other nationality except the Swiss themselves, and later the Germans. That has changed now, and Muscovites fill the grand salons that once reverberated with cut-glass English accents.
I remember about ten years ago, in the lobby of Badrutt's Palace, bumping into a monocle-wearing Englishman of my acquaintance, a distinguished former foreign correspondent, who bemoaned even then the 'Russian mafia' invasion. He also told me that decades earlier, he had arrived at the Palace at the same time as Noel Coward. The great man was with his constant companion Graham Payn, and startled the stiff Swiss receptionist by checking in as Mr and Mrs Noel Coward.
Actually, the British do still loom large in St Moritz. The famous Cresta Run, the toboggan track first built in 1885, weaves an icy path through a corner of a foreign field that is for ever Tunbridge Wells.
When I was last there, it was presided over by the redoubtable Colonel Digby Willoughby, whose plummy voice rang out through a loudspeaker, peremptorily telling riders how thoroughly inadequate they were. The old boy is dead now, but his spirit lives on, not least in the X-rays of shattered bones that are still brusquely shown to the firsttimer before he breaks his duck, if not his neck.
The place to be seen: Shoppers tour the resort's many designer stores
Chilling: An intrepid competitor prepares to tackle the Cresta Run
Since 1925, women have been banned from riding the Cresta, and the overwhelmingly British St Moritz Tobogganing Club, which runs it, shows no sign of embracing gender equality any time soon, even though the current membership secretary is Lady Brabazon of Tara.
For non-members brave enough to give the Cresta a whirl, five rides cost £415. .. inclusive of tuition, equipment and scary X-rays.
I decided to keep my money in my pocket. The pistes were quite chal-lenging enough for me. The skiing in St Moritz is marvellous, and was enhanced the weekend I was there, at the end of January, by 3ft of fresh snow.
To make the most of it, my friends and I got up early one morning and rode the first train up the mountain, at 7.40am, to enjoy the St Moritz tradition of 'der Weisse Teppich' or 'the White Carpet' - skiing on near-empty slopes with the sun rising over the distant Italian Alps.
We were staying at the Carlton Hotel, a little out of town and arguably the most discreet of the five-star establishments.
To see and be seen, to swank and risk being out-swanked, the Palace is the place. But the guest list at the Carlton, which has included Zinedine Zidane, Steffi Graf, Michael Schumacher and King Juan Carlos of Spain, suggests a better class of celebrity, or at least one happier out of the spotlight.
The Carlton has 60 rooms, all suites, and all facing Lake St Moritz, which, when sufficiently frozen, is almost as much a focus for winter sports as the mountains. In February, the lake resounded to the White Turf festival of horseracing, an event that dates back to 1907, and then to the sound of bat and ball, during the St Moritz ice cricket tournament. It dates only from 1988, yet is already a rich source of anecdotes.
Prancing on ice: Action from last month's White Turf festival
It was while he was visiting for the cricket, in 1990, that England's former captain David Gower decided to take his rented car for a spin on the ice, only to find that ice strong enough to support human beings was not strong enough to support a VW Golf. Apparently, it was the ill-fated car's first rental, with 250 miles on the clock.
Still, extravagance and eccentricity belong in St Moritz. It is many years since the Maharajah of Hyderabad arrived at the railway station with 500 trunks, 300 pieces of hand luggage, 40 tuxedos and a suitcase full of ties.
But it is not so very long since the general manager of one of the town's grand hotels was approached one afternoon by the secretary of a valued guest, an Arab prince. The prince, said the secretary, would like a picnic dinner in the forest the following day - and his requirements would include three large tents, lavish strings of fairy lights in the trees and electricity for the entertainment, and each tent should be filled with colourful cushions. They wanted to eat lamb, roasted over an open fire and, to complete the picture, the princess had asked for some ponies eating hay.
So a generator was helicoptered into the forest. Seamstresses were hired to spend all night making cushions. The lamb was procured, an enormous fire was constructed, and the picnic was the talk of the valley, for a day or two.
So much for the private jet set. What of the easyJet set? In truth, St Moritz doesn't have to cost an arm and both legs. Six beers, in one of the town's nicer bars, the Alpine-chic Posthaus, cost us just over £20.
Yet wherever you go, there are reminders that this is no place for the budget-conscious. At the Davidoff cigar shop my friend Tom chose a sturdy Romeo y Julieta costing 18 francs, and handed over a 100-franc note. 'I'm sorry, that's all I've got,' he told the shop assistant, whose puzzled look seemed to say: why would anyone carry anything less?
EasyJet flies to Zurich from Gatwick, Luton and Manchester. One-way prices start from £26.99. Visit easyJet.com.
The Swiss Transfer Ticket covers a round-trip between the airport/Swiss border and your destination. Prices are £90 in second class and £145 first class. For the ultimate Swiss rail specialist, call Switzerland Travel Centre (00800 100 200 30) or visit swisstravelsystem.co.uk.
Suites at the Carlton Hotel, St Moritz, cost from £770 a night. This includes half board, butler service, minibar, internet access, service charge, taxes and VAT, and use of the spa. For more information, call 00 41 81 836 7000 or visit the hotel website at carlton-stmoritz.ch.