Toast of New York turns on his critics after new London restaurant gets a roasting

Keith McNally accuses reviewers of being a 'back-stabbing bunch of narcissists'

When Keith McNally, the British king of the New York restaurant scene, opened Balthazar in London in February, it was the biggest food event to hit the city in years.

The renowned restaurateur, toast of critics and celebrities in Manhattan, had returned to the country of his birth with every hope of being hailed as a prodigal son.

But barely two months in, things have gone sour.

In candid comments, Mr McNally has now spoken about his frustration with London's "back-stabbing" food and restaurant community.

Reviews of Balthazar, a copy of his most famous New York venue, have been distinctly mixed and Mr McNally has already had to defend his restaurant from one critic's accusation that it served "the worst food in Europe".

Mr McNally told The Independent: "My pet hate is the London food and restaurant community which, with two notable exceptions, is a petty, self-regarding, back-stabbing bunch of narcissists who should be put through a meat grinder and dumped into the Indian Ocean."

When asked to comment further he said that his comments were "just an observation from someone new to the food scene here".

The attack comes after Mr McNally hit back at The Times's food critic Giles Coren, who gave Balthazar a zero rating for food and told diners to expect "the best restaurant in London, but the worst food in Europe".

Mr McNally has dismissed the review as "clearly for controversy's sake", and claimed that there is "a strong sense of inferiority amongst many, but not all of, the press here [in London]. No one more so than Giles Coren."

Mr Coren also claimed "you can't get a good mouthful of food" in New York, adding that "London is … in the throes of a misguided and tragically one-sided fling with the Big Asshole which been baffling to me from the beginning."

Mr McNally called the critic's comments on New York City "clichéd and outdated", in a response posted on the American fine-dining blog Eater.

The restaurateur, who grew up in London's East End, worked as an actor before moving to New York to become pursue a career as a filmmaker.

Instead he became the darling of the city's restaurant scene after opening the Odeon restaurant in New York's Tribeca neighbourhood in 1980, which became a honeypot for celebrities such as Robert De Niro, Andy Warhol and Liz Taylor.

Other hugely popular restaurants and nightclubs followed, including Café Luxembourg, Nell's and Lucky Strike.

He took a break from restaurants in the 1990s to make more films and also ran his own farm in Martha's Vineyard before opening the world famous Balthazar in Lower Manhattan in 1997.

Two years ago he finally returned to London and the new Balthazar, in Covent Garden, central London, is his first restaurant outside of New York.

Mr McNally has said that the mixed reviews have not put off diners, pointing out that Balthazar had been packed every night and was "turning down 300 reservation requests a day".

The Independent's own food critic Tracey Macleod gave the food at the Balthazar four stars and the ambience five stars, writing that though "a pastiche of a pastiche", the restaurant had "that touch of mystery and magic that characterises all great restaurants".

Food fights: Killer reviews

AA Gill on San Lorenzo, Chelsea, London

"All things considered, quite the worst restaurant in London, maybe the world… serves horrendous food, grudgingly, in a room that is a museum to Italian waiters' taste circa 1976."

Fay Maschler on Chittagong Charlie, Golders Green

"It is difficult, if not impossible, to imagine anyone conjuring up a restaurant, even in their sleep, where the food in its mediocrity comes so close to inedible."

Jay Rayner on The Corinthian, Glasgow

"The offence of grievous bodily harm upon a lovely little sea bream really ought to carry some form of judicial penalty."

Kunal Dutta

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

    Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

    £33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

    Recruitment Genius: Payroll and Benefits Co-ordinator

    £22300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum group is looking for a Payro...

    Day In a Page

    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'