Keith McNally NYC restaurants hit with health department violations
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Keith McNally NYC restaurants hit with health department violations

By Laura Collins Chief Investigative Reporter For

22:46 18 Jun 2024, updated 16:12 19 Jun 2024

When video emerged of a rat scurrying around the floor of storied Manhattan restaurant Balthazar, owner Keith McNally huffily dismissed the whole affair as a ‘set up.’

Now, can exclusively reveal, that within weeks of socialite Michelle Manning Barish’s video going viral, both Balthazar and a second famous McNally establishment have been hit with a string of hygiene violations.

The violations came after New York City‘s Health Department carried out inspections on Balthazar and Pastis.

When inspectors visited Balthazar in Soho on May 3, 2024, they found that kitchen equipment and surfaces were not made of acceptable material, nor kept in a way that allows accessibility for proper cleaning.

Pastis, McNally’s famously chic eatery on the other side of town, fared even worse when inspected on January 4, 2024.

After video of a rat racing along Keith McNally’s Balthazar restaurant went viral in April, two of his New York City hotspots have been hit with health code violations
McNally (pictured), no stranger to controversy, claimed the incident was staged as backlash for blasting Lauren Sanchez on Instagram

The stomach-turning report found ‘Filth flies or food/refuse/sewage associated with (FRSA) flies or other nuisance pests in establishment’s food and/or non-food areas. FRSA flies include house flies, blow flies, bottle flies, flesh flies, drain flies, Phorid flies and fruit flies.’ 

What’s more, inspectors noted the, ‘Establishment is not free of harborage or conditions conducive to rodents, insects of other pests.’

McNally, 72, has maintained that the rat filmed rocketing around Balthazar’s tables and kickboards was deliberately released by a ‘suspicious looking man in his 40s,’ who, he claimed, sat close to the door and set down a bag containing white lab rats before making his hasty exit.

Patrons and viewers have pointed to the fact that the rat in Manning Barish’s video appears to be brown.

For her part Manning Barish described the event as, ‘Absolutely REVOLTING’ and ‘like a scene from Ratatouille.’

She wrote, ‘Rats found in Balthazar NYC in the dining room tonight…can’t imagine what the kitchens are like.’

With the reports from the Health Department there’s no need to. The findings posted on the department’s publicly viewable website show that a string of violations have been found in both Pastis and Balthazar across the past three years.

Balthazar has numerous health department violations including a May 3 report that found kitchen equipment and surfaces were not made of acceptable material, nor kept in a way that allows accessibility for proper cleaning
A January 4 inspection of Pastis (pictured), another one of McNally’s French restaurants, found even more sordid violations
The most recent inspection of Pastis found flies and conditions conducive to rodents at the establishment. It had previously been cited for improper food storage and attracting vermin

Balthazar has previously been cited for, ‘food, supplies and equipment not protected from potential…contamination during storage, preparation, transportation, display or service,’ and ‘raw, cooked or prepared food…adulterated, cross-contaminated, or not discarded in accordance with HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) plan,’ 

Inspectors found Pastis in violation for inadequate ‘personal cleanliness,’ of staff members of whom it was noted, ‘outer garment soiled with possible contaminant,’ and ‘effective hair restrained not worn in an area where food is prepared.’

Both facilities have been blasted by the health department across the years for ‘harborage or conditions conducive to rodents, insects or other pests.’

McNally has faced a backlash recently following insulting comments about Jeff Bezos’s fiancé Lauren Sanchez that he posted to his Instagram account in April.

In the much-criticized post he wrote, ‘does anybody else find Jeff Bezos’ New wife – Lauren Sanchez- ABSOLUTELY REVOLTING? What an ugly and F*****g SMUG – LOOKING couple they make. Is this what having 1000 Billion dollars does to people?’

The famously ornery restaurateur is no stranger to controversy. Two years ago, he famously banned and then unbanned James Corden following allegations that the comedian mistreated members of Balthazar staff and demanded free drinks when they messed up his wife’s order.

McNally said he has been facing backlash for calling Lauren Sanchez ‘revolting,’ but admitted the Amazon founder and his wife-to-be ‘looked stunning’ at the Met Gala

McNally accused Corden of being ‘the most abusive customer to my Balthazar servers since the restaurant opened 25 years ago,’ before relenting and saying he believed in second chances, ‘Having f***ed up myself more than most people.’

McNally, whose memoir is out later this year, also raised eyebrows with his support of Ghislaine Maxwell and refusal to believe allegations of sexual abuse leveled at Woody Allen by his adoptive daughter, Dylan.

His marriage of 15 years to wife Alina ended in divorce in 2018. Some years later McNally complained that ‘divorce and COVID’ had cost him $10million.

At the time Alina wryly commented that, given that he retained the same legal counsel as King Charles during his divorce from Princess Diana and Paul McCartney during his own from Heather McCartney-Mills, ‘I imagine his legal fees must have been quite costly.’