Balthazar owner Keith McNally’s biggest feuds, social media moments

Restaurateur Keith McNally has made headlines over the years with his wild calls on social media and online feuds.

Here’s a look back at McNally’s most memorable beefs over the years – from food critic Adam Platt to his recent clash with James Corden.

Adam Platte

In 2010, New York Magazine critic Adam Platt wrote a scathing one-star review of McNally’s then-newest venture, Pulino’s Bar and Pizzeria.

In response to the review, McNally wrote a nasty letter, calling Platt a “bald” and “overweight” reviewer who was “unable to give an unbiased review of lively downtown restaurants.”

Adam Platte
The famous NYC restaurant fought with food critic Adam Platt in 2010.
Getty Images for New York Magazine

He added, “The fact is, you don’t describe young inner-city New Yorkers any more than you understand the restaurants they love to eat at.”

Platt countered, “As always in these cases, he is entitled to his opinion and I, as a bald, middle-aged, and unfortunately (slightly) overweight professional food critic, are entitled to mine.”

Frank Bruni

Frank Bruni
McNally’s feud with Frank Bruni dates back to 2007.

The feud between the New York Times critic and McNally began way back in 2007, when Frank Bruni bestowed a meager star on his newly opened restaurant, Morandi.

The New York restaurateur fired back at Bruni, accusing the writer of being “sexist” for “never giving a chef in Manhattan more than one star.”

The drama continued in 2010 when the journalist was asked about McNally at a book reading. He called the restaurant owner a “horrible man” and said he no longer frequents his restaurants.

Graydon Carter

Graydon Carter stands in front of tables
McNally’s Beef with Graydon Carter began in 2021.
Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan

In 2021, former Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter reportedly made a reservation for 12 people at the Morandi, but hasn’t turned up.

The town’s restaurant mogul took to Instagram and claimed Carter had done this three times before, calling him a “freaky f-ker” and declaring that he’s “never allowed to make a reservation at any of my restaurants ever again.” Never.”

For his part, Carter apologized for the Morandi snafu but added that McNally’s claims that it happened multiple times were “pure fiction.”

“My office forgot to cancel the lunch reservation until just after 1:30am which is pathetic and we will be making a donation to the restaurant’s tip pool today to help cover staff earnings. … As a restaurateur, I fully understand the implications of not showing up for a big party,” he told Page Six at the time.

But the feud was still raging months later when Town & Country magazine approached McNally for an offer of what he wanted for the holidays.

“Graydon Carter’s head on a tray,” he replied.

Michael Schwa

Michael Schwa
McNally threatened to ban Michael Shvo from his restaurants in 2021.
Getty Images for The Raleigh Hot

In November 2021, McNally threatened to ban multi-million dollar real estate developer Michael Shvo for allegedly walking past Balthazar’s restaurant staff and taking a seat at the famous restaurant’s prime table.

“How F. presumptuous! This disgusting, justifiable behavior is the pinnacle of arrogance,” McNally replied. “Please have Mr. Shvo’s AA [always accommodate] Status torn to pieces. If he ever tries to sit back down, he will join Graydon Carter on Balthazar’s 86 list.”

Shvo’s wife, Seren Shvo, responded to McNally’s claims, explaining that the couple have been eating brunch at the restaurant for years and always sit at a booth. On that particular day, because it was cold and she had her baby, she went in and stood by the only open booth.

“While I was standing, Michael went outside to find the Maitre D to check in, but before he could a lady came to (the) table, greeted us very politely and said, ‘Nice that you found your table, Mr. Shvo’, welcome,'” she claimed.

Marina O’Loughlin

McNally began another feud in January 2022, this time with British food critic Marina O’Loughlin.

The restaurant owner posted a photo of a newly opened restaurant in England and slammed the critic for calling the spot “Restaurant of the Year” even though it was only January.

“Does this restaurant REALLY look life-affirming? According to Sunday Times restaurant critic MARINA O’LOUGHLIN, it does,” he wrote, adding that the place looks more “like a cafe in a non-denominational church.”

Screenshot of a tweet by Marina O'louglin
The food critic accused McNally of serving “frozen fries” in his restaurants.

O’Loughlin fired back on social media, calling McNally a “former NYC restaurateur” who “talked so far off his butt.”

“Oh, go away. With your sad obsession with me, your ragged walls and overpriced cafe rouges, frozen fries and desperate staff morale, you’re the last person I would listen to about restaurants,” she wrote.

James Corden

In October 2022, McNally called James Corden the “most abusive” client he’s had since NYC hotspot Balthazar opened 25 years ago.

Taking to Instagram, the restaurant owner called the comedian a “tiny cretin of a man” for allegedly demanding freebies and threatening to leave a bad Yelp review after finding a hair in his food earlier this year.

James Corden stands on a red carpet
James Corden was recently banned and unbanned from Balthazar for “abusing” employees.
Getty Images

McNally also claimed that during an Oct. 9 brunch at his Cafe Luxembourg restaurant, Corden went insane after his wife’s eggs were not cooked to her liking.

After publicly announcing that the actor was “86’d” from his restaurants, McNally gave an update that the ban was lifted.

“James Corden just called me and apologized profusely. After screwing myself more than most, I’m a firm believer in second chances,” the New York restaurateur posted on Instagram.

“But… anyone big enough to apologize to a dead idler like me (and my staff) doesn’t deserve to be banned from anywhere. Especially Balthazar.”