Acid-tongue Keith McNally claims RATS were unleashed in his upmarket Balthazar restaurant in NYC by mystery diner after backlash over calling Lauren Sanchez ‘absolutely revolting’

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Written By Maya Cantina

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  • Diners at New York’s Balthazar restaurant were shocked after seeing rats scurrying across the floor which were captured on video
  • Staff intervened swiftly, using napkins in an attempt to catch the rodents
  • Restaurateur Keith McNally suggested the incident was staged, involving domesticated mice coming days after he blasted Lauren Sanchez on Instagram

New York City restauranteur Keith McNally says rodents were deliberately released inside his Balthazar restaurant as he faces backlash for branding Jeff Bezos’ fiancée Lauren Sanchez ‘absolutely revolting’. 

Diners enjoying a meal out could be heard shrieking as at least one rodent could be seen scurrying across the floor of the dining room.

One eagle eyed diner managed to capture a video of what appeared to be a small rat running across the white tiled floor as it made a bid to escape. 

Waiters rushed into action to become makeshift rat catchers gathering all the napkins they could find as they attempted to capture the uninvited guest. 

McNally’s restaurant, which was awarded an A-rating during the city’s latest Health Department kitchen inspections was quick to respond to reports of rats, viewing the entire  incident with cynicism.

‘A suspicious-looking man of about 40 came and sat nervously at Balthazar’s bar last night around 8:30. After paying for one drink he suddenly left very quickly leaving an upturned bag which 5 white domesticated mice ran out from,’ McNally posted to Instagram.

Diners at New York’s Balthazar restaurant were shocked after seeing rats scurrying across the floor, which were captured on video

Restaurateur Keith McNally suggested the incident was staged, involving domesticated mice coming days after he blasted Lauren Sanchez on Instagram

Restaurateur Keith McNally suggested the incident was staged, involving domesticated mice coming days after he blasted Lauren Sanchez on Instagram

On Monday night, McNally took aim at Lauren Sanchez in a late-night Instagram rant. In it, the 72-year-old branded Bezos' soon-to-be second wife 'revolting'

On Monday night, McNally took aim at Lauren Sanchez in a late-night Instagram rant. In it, the 72-year-old branded Bezos’ soon-to-be second wife ‘revolting’ 

‘One of the bartenders who noticed the whole episode ran after the man, but failed to catch him. The five domesticated white mice were quickly caught.

‘The entire episode was a SET-UP. I just feel sorry that the 5 domesticated white mice were exploited this way,’ McNally wrote.

The rat seen scurrying in the video, however, was brown in color and it is not clear if the incidents are separate or possibly part of a revenge plot following McNally’s slights against Sanchez.

‘A woman called Michelle Manning Barish seemed to have knowledge that the incident was about to happen because she was standing suspiciously close to where the incident happened with her iPhone ready to take photos… She immediately posted one of the photos on Instagram and DM’d me a photo of a white mouse,’ McNally stated.

In what appeared to be a scene straight out of the beloved cartoon Ratatouille, those who were sat at tables trying to enjoy their Friday night dinner were forced to lift their feet as the tiny tearaway raced beneath them, and along the side of the bar. 

Those who had cell phones to hand attempted to aid the capture and turned on their flashlights to help the waitstaff deal with the sudden infestation.

'The entire episode was a SET-UP', wrote restaurateur Keith McNally on Instagram

‘The entire episode was a SET-UP’, wrote restaurateur Keith McNally on Instagram

Wait staff intervened swiftly, using napkins in an attempt to catch the rodents

Wait staff intervened swiftly, using napkins in an attempt to catch the rodents

Staff used guests cellphone flashlights to help aid the capture of the rodents

Staff used guests cellphone flashlights to help aid the capture of the rodents 

McNally's restaurant was awarded an A-grade in the latest round of kitchen inspections by the New York City Health Department

McNally’s restaurant was awarded an A-grade in the latest round of kitchen inspections by the New York City Health Department

The dining room was sent into chaos as diners were seen lifting their legs up from the floor

The dining room was sent into chaos as diners were seen lifting their legs up from the floor

The chaos was caught on camera and posted to Instagram in what would have made for a memorable meal at the French brasserie.

‘Rats found in Balthazar NYC in the dining room tonight…can’t imagine what the kitchen is like. Absolutely ‘REVOLTING”, the caption read in the footage posted by Michelle Manning Barish who describes herself as an ‘activist’ and ‘writer’. 

Barish later added some words of advice for McNally noting how the ‘rat incident’ didn’t make his nightly report which he regularly posts to Instagram. 

‘Hey left out your rat incident in the dining room. Also, Why are you so obsessed with Lauren Sanchez? It’s creepy. I promise, that while she’s living her best life, helping others and having fun, she never thinks of your vocally anti semitic rants, defense of sexual predators, or rat infested restaurant,’ Barish wrote. 

‘You’re creepy. But at least you’re more consistent than your food. Maybe handle your rat situation and take a break from attacking women on social media,’ she added.

McNally then accused Barish of possibly being involved in unleashing the rodents in his restaurant.

‘Wouldn’t surprise me she instigated the whole unpleasant episode. Or at least was a party to it,’ he wrote in response to a comment online.

Keith McNally shared a carousel of pictures of Lauren Sanchez and her fiancé, Jeff Bezos, and proceeded to skewer the pair on Monday night

Keith McNally shared a carousel of pictures of Lauren Sanchez and her fiancé, Jeff Bezos, and proceeded to skewer the pair on Monday night

Staff could be seen on the floor as the tried to track down the uninvited guest

Staff could be seen on the floor as the tried to track down the uninvited guest

Guests either filmed the drama or used their flashlights to help servers track the rats down

Guests either filmed the drama or used their flashlights to help servers track the rats down

Waiters could be seen scouring the floor as they desperately searched for the critter

Waiters could be seen scouring the floor as they desperately searched for the critter

On Monday night, McNally took aim at Lauren Sanchez in a late-night Instagram rant. 

In it, the 72-year-old branded Bezos’ soon-to-be second wife ‘revolting’, before skewering the pair with comments offered alongside a carousel of recent pictures.

In the scathing rant McNally wrote: ‘Does anybody else find Jeff Bezos’ New wife – Lauren Sanchez – ABSOLUTELY REVOLTING?’ 

‘What an ugly and F***ing SMUG – LOOKING couple they make. Is this what having 1000 Billion dollars does to people?’

He has since sparked fury on social media, with former TV anchor Sanchez sharing a very pointed message on Tuesday night and some of her high-profile friends coming to her defense. 

In a subequent post, McNally claimed that a reporter from The Daily Beast came to his restaurant as early as 5 pm on Tuesday and accused her of ‘looking for a story that suits her narrative.’ 

‘A lady came early on around 5pm to ask for a reservation during primetime. Because we were full at primetime I offered her a nice table a little later.’ 

‘It turned out that she was a reporter (she later called herself ‘a spy ‘) for The Daily Beast and she proceeded to ask our bar guests if they noticed that Balthazar wasn’t busy because of Keith’s Instagram post about Jeff Bezos’s girlfriend,’ the post reads.

‘Mind you this was at 5pm!! Our lovely regular S. was the one who reported her to me after she tried to get him to give her a quote…

‘He told her that No one in NYC would stop coming to Balthazar because of a filthy rich Billionaire’s girlfriend. Lots of other customers said the same thing. 

‘She then came to talk to me to try to get me to give her a quote ..I told her that we couldn’t comment but since she was asking if we were busy or not I simply told her to look around for herself.

‘The room was packed at this point and she agreed that we seemed very busy then left,’ the post reads. 

The post went on to say that the night was ‘very busy,’ with both indoor and outdoor seating areas ‘got fairly full.’ 

The pair got engaged nearly a year ago after close to five years together

The pair got engaged nearly a year ago after close to five years together

The former TV anchor posted two telling messages on her Instagram Stories

Her stories urged people to be kind to one another

The former TV anchor posted two telling messages on her Instagram Stories on Tuesday night, urging people to be kind to one another

McNally, the owner of enduring New York City hot-spots Balthazar, Pastis, Minetta Tavern, and Morandi has previously picked several fights with well-known visitors to his restaurants.

In October of 2022, he started a weeks-long feud with then late-night host James Corden, who reportedly screamed at McNally’s Balthazar staff over an all-yolk omelet his wife had attempted to order.

McNally posted a long statement to Instagram detailing Corden’s alleged unpleasant encounters with the Balthazar staff and issuing a ban on Corden as a guest of his establishments.  

Corden, who has on multiple occasions been pegged as difficult to work with, defended himself on-air and in a New York Times profile at the time.

Lauren Sanchez received support from some celebrity allies including Chrissy Teigen and MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle

Lauren Sanchez received support from some celebrity allies including Chrissy Teigen and MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle

He apologized, McNally reversed the ban, and things were smoothed over for a bit, but only until the restaurant boss got his hands on a copy of the London Times, in which Corden denied ever screaming at anyone.

‘I don’t want to over-egg the pudding, but in Friday’s London Times Corden flip-flopped and told a massive lie AGAIN,’ wrote McNally after the dispute had been settled for the first time.

”I never screamed at anyone, I didn’t shout, didn’t call anyone a name or swear or use derogatory language … How is it remotely a thing? When that person who posted the story wasn’t even there,’ (said Corden)

‘On second viewing, I found his TV ‘confessional’ contrived and phony. The actor will say anything to save his bacon.

‘In the scheme of things my opinion means nothing, but after Friday’s interview and a second look at his fraudulent confessional, I’ve given up on James Corden. For Good,’ wrote the successful hospitality boss.

Keith McNally’s verbal hit list

Renowned Restaurateur Keith McNally is known for his handful of enduringly popular restaurants in New York City and around the world. He has become, perhaps, equally well-known for his sharp-tongue and unfiltered opinions.

Lauren Sanchez – On April 15, McNally posted a seemingly unprompted incendiary rant aimed at the fiancée of the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos. In it, he brands Sanchez, who often walks red carpets and attends formal events in extremely revealing outfits, ‘revolting’

James Corden – In October 2022, McNally went to war with then-late night host Corden after the British funnyman allegedly berated the Balthazar staff on two separate occasions. Corden apologized on-air for his rude behavior, but denied he’d done anything wrong to several publications, further infuriating McNally. The restaurateur banned and then unbanned Corden from Balthazar, branding him a ‘cretin’

Ronan Farrow – McNally is a longtime defender of Woody Allen, who has faced accusations of child sexual abuse for many years, which have harmed his reputation in Hollywood and with the publishing house that was meant to release his memoir in 2020. Ahead of the release, Ronan Farrow – himself a successful author – said he felt he could no longer work with Hachette after it acquired the memoir. Hachette promptly dropped plans to release ‘Apropos of Nothing,’ and gave the rights back to the author. McNally called the ‘silencing of Woody Allen’ an ‘abuse of power by Ronan Farrow. Hachette’s craven disavowal of Woody Allen’s memoir damages freedom of expression and signals a dangerous victory for censorship by those who shout loudest,’ he wrote.

Graydon Carter – In 2021, McNally took aim at Carter, the former Vanity Fair editor and founder of Air Mail, after he failed to show up for a 12-person reservation at McNally’s West Village spot Morandi. ‘That fancy F***er will never be allowed to make a reservation at one of my restaurants again. Never,’ he wrote, adding that Carter ‘had done this very same thing before. Once at Minetta Tavern and twice at Balthazar.’

Jean Georges’ Tin Building – When it first opened several years ago, McNally of course did not hold his tongue when he had a negative thought about Jean Georges’ restored and re-opened Tin Building in Manhattan. ‘Less a food market, and more a collection of fancy restaurants … if you’re eager to go to a classy shopping mall in Orlando, save the airfare and take a cab to the Tin Building,’ he wrote, adding that the project ‘epitomizes the Very Worst of New York.’ Three months later, he backtracked entirely after visiting the revamped food destination, writing that he had ‘COMPLETELY CHANGED MY MIND … I’m loath to admit it, but I absolutely loved the place. I should now do the Right Thing and apologize to everyone involved with the market … for being so f***ing wrong about it.’

Fay Maschler MBE – Several years back, McNally posted a rant about alleged corruption among the restaurant critics of London. Specifically, he told a story about nurturing a friendship with Fay Maschler MBE and her husband before she gave his newly opened British Balthazar a rave review. He wrote that ‘without Fay Maschler’s ‘bought’ review, which I take 50% responsibility for, Balthazar would have closed,’ noting that the rest of the English critics panned the new spot. He said ‘Four of five of London restaurant critics have so much Putin-like power that the people who slave away cooking and serving the food are scared s***less to publicly find fault with them, or even talk openly about the restaurant critics’ colossal power.’ 

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