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A Look at Keith McNally's Balthazar London Media Blitz

Photo: Xavier Girard Lachaîne

Minds were blown and the Earth quite possibly shook a little bit in London on Monday when Keith McNally unveiled the hotly anticipated Balthazar London, a trans-Atlantic recreation of his iconic New York City restaurant. In the weeks leading up to the opening — and the five days since it threw open its doors — much ado has been made about McNally's first restaurant outside of New York. Here's a look at the shape of the Keith McNally London media blitz of 2013:

Feb. 8: Esquire UK has a long and interesting profile of McNally that reveals a lot of the restaurateur's insecurities about opening Balthazar London. He also addresses his own doubts about replicating one of his restaurants, saying, "I've never duplicated any restaurant of mine and felt — and still feel to a degree — that there's something morally questionable about making a copy of one's restaurant." [Esquire UK]

Feb. 16: The Observer accompanies McNally on a search for his childhood home to get a glimpse into his backstory in the broodiest interview of the media blitz. There's the story of the restaurateur's longtime flirtation with films and theatre, as well as how his restaurants become celebrity magnets. McNally also recalls the period after his divorce, the many times he turned down offers to replicate one of his restaurants as he has done with Balthazar London, and his many anxieties about opening the place. As he says in the end, "Success is a brief suspension of failure. Things don't get better as you get older, you don't get wiser, none of those things are true." [The Guardian]

Feb. 20: On Day Three of Balthazar London, critic Fay Maschler files a pretty bizarre review for The Evening Standard. She discloses in the second paragraph that McNally is one of her family friends: "We met, discovered pleasures other than restaurants that we have in common — going to the theatre is one — and so this review is possibly not entirely dispassionate. Or maybe it is." She then goes on to rave about the restaurant, but to prove her impartiality she points to some overcooked Brussels sprouts and a lemon tart that "lacked essential asperity." [Evening Standard]

Feb. 21: Bloomberg UK critic Richard Vines has a Q&A with McNally, who admits that he's "the sort of person who wilts under pressure." He also mentions that he'd been thinking of doing a pub in Notting Hill, discusses whether there's room for another brasserie in London and compares the New York and London restaurant scenes, saying, "There seems to have been the equivalent explosion in food and restaurants here in the last five, six years that there was in New York 10 to 15 years ago. It's very vibrant here and there's a newness, a rawness to it. Already in New York, the edges have been softened a bit, whereas here the edges are sharp." [Bloomberg]

Feb. 21: The Independent also gets on the McNally interview train with the usual rundown of the restaurateur's anxieties. This time it's an under-the-counter fridge that is bothering him, as well as the fear that Balthazar's atmosphere might be a bit too Disney. McNally also reveals that he is really just not a fan of the celebrity chef thing, saying, "I think there's a fucking awful fixation on fame and celebrity. You know, if I see another picture of Victoria Beckham or Jamie Oliver, I'm going to want to throw up. Nothing against those people, but I don't get it. And why people are so obsessed with celebrity at the moment is just stultifying. It's incomprehensible and awful." [The Independent]

Feb. 22: Now that everyone's had a look at his childhood home, the Financial Times visits McNally at his current £4.25m ($6.49m) London home. The restaurateur declares that moving to London was "the right decision." He apparently spent another £2m ($3m) on renovations to the Notting Hill house, where "[e]verything is homely but just so." The reporter also notes that "McNally is something of an anti-host, in possession of a beautiful house but disinclined to boast about it." [FT]

· All Keith McNally Coverage on Eater [-E-]
· All Balthazar London Coverage on Eater [-E-]

Balthazar London

4-6 Russell Street, London WC2B 5HZ

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