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Keith McNally’s Instagram Has Taken a Wrong Turn Into Yikes

Plus, New York food delivery apps are now offering a drop-off option — and more intel

Keith McNally at Minetta Tavern
Keith McNally at Minetta Tavern
Daniel Krieger/Eater

Keith McNally speaks out about Woody Allen’s memoir, and yikes!

Two weeks after his social media debut, Keith McNally’s Instagram has taken a turn for the worse. The hit restaurateur behind Balthazar and Pastis took to the social media platform to criticize Hachette Book Group for refusing to publish Woody Allen’s memoir, calling the decision “a dangerous victory for censorship by those who shout loudest.” Needless to say, people aren’t pleased that McNally is defending a man accused of child abuse, responding that private publishers have the right to use discretion when investing in authors. When criticized in the comments section of his post, McNally — who is currently in the process of writing his own memoir — doubled down on his original argument. He wrote that “though child abuse is an inexcusable and dreadful crime,” Woody Allen had not received proper due process. McNally then went on to make a distasteful and misguided comparison of the case to the lynching of Emmett Till in 1955. “This mass hysteria cannot continue,” McNally wrote.

McNally launched his Instagram account a little over two weeks ago with a flurry of cultural critiques, throwback posts, and grammar lessons. Eater admired the aesthetic appeal of his early posts, but the tone of the account shifted dramatically last week — from jokes about his own divorce to excerpts from Kafka’s The Trial, a novel about a man who has been accused of crimes he is not aware of. The posts come on the heels of London publisher Hachette Book Group announcing — and subsequently declining — to publish Allen’s memoir following employee-led protests and tweets from Dylan and Ronan Farrow.

Update Wednesday, March 11, 11:13 a.m.: On Tuesday evening, McNally sent Eater a statement regarding the Instagram post. Here it is in full:

Three weeks ago I didn’t know what Instagram was. Today I find myself drowning in a slew of vitriolic comments on my new Instagram account after voicing criticism of the publisher, Hachette, for breaking its promise to publish Woody Allen’s memoir. Expecting this to lead to a coherent debate on the ethics of publishing, I experienced instead a rude awakening to the vilifying world of Instagram. From criticizing the publisher for succumbing to ”those who shout loudest ” I instantly received a torrent of personal, and misinformed, insults from those who shout loudest myself; including one cursing me for being, what she called, an apologist for sexual abusers.

Of course, I’m not a sexual abuse apologist. In 2009 the French dramatic writers’ guild, sponsored a petition in defence of Roman Polanski. Among those who signed it were Woody Allen, Mia Farrow and Martin Scorsese. Another petition in defence of Polanski was put together by French intellectual, Bernard-Henri Lévy and signed by Mike Nichols and Diane von Furstenberg. I was so disgusted by these petitions in support of someone I felt deserved imprisonment that I instantly wrote a letter to the Times of London saying so.

I also voiced condemnation of Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Mike Tyson, Larry Nassar and Tupac Shakur after each was tried and convicted for violent acts against women. However, this does not stop me from giving unconditional support to due process or, as in Woody Allen’s case, having an imperishable belief that all men and women are innocent until proved guilty. Unfortunately, I discovered, much to my cost, that this isn’t the belief on Instagram.

In other news

— The Flatiron District’s new-ish seafood restaurant Oceans is now open for lunch. The restaurant, which mostly focuses on international seafood like Japanese Madai and Mediterranean scarlet prawns, will offer a three-course prix-fixe menu ($28) and a sushi course, featuring five pieces of nigiri and a tuna or salmon roll ($29).

— We’re definitely interested in the new menu at Boerum Hill’s Grand Army. The restaurant and cocktail bar’s revamped food menu includes irreverent cultural mash-ups, like tamales stuffed with jalapeno poppers, steamed bao mixed with food coloring, and escabeche made from escargot.

— Industry City in Sunset Park may be expanding by another 1.45 million square feet. The waterfront development is currently home to offshoots of some of New York City’s most popular food destinations including including Hometown BBQ and Burger Joint

— Cheeky Barcelona dive bar Two Schmucks is embarking on a cross-country pop-up tour dubbed “Schmuck 2020.” The bar’s first stop will be at East Village cocktail bar Mace this Thursday.

— Craft sake brewery Brooklyn Kura is teaming up with all-day Japanese bistro Hall to launch a new dinner menu. The menu — available Thursday evenings from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. at Hall — features kushiage, sashimi, and sake from the Brooklyn Kura taproom.

Bali Kitchen reopened this weekend in the East Village. The Indonesian restaurant had previously been closed for renovations.

— Food delivery services are offering a new drop-off option as coronavirus fears mount in New York City.

— Social media editor James Park is living our best lives for us in Taiwan:

This story has been updated to add a statement from Keith McNally.