Five Minutes With Keith McNally
The NYC restaurateur dishes on Pastis Miami
The eagerly anticipated Pastis Miami opened this week in the Magic City’s Wynwood neighborhood.
The restaurant is the mirror image of Pastis in New York City, down to the subway tiles, the warm lighting, and the cozy banquettes. The only noticeable difference is the addition of a friendly outdoor bar and patio — a nod to Miami’s deliciously warm weather.
As a native New Yorker living in Miami, it was an absolute joy to be able to sit at Pastis’ bar and enjoy a martini (I recommend “Le Petite Pickle”, a purposely tiny four-sip vodka and pickle brine cocktail to start your experience) without having to hop on a plane.
During this first week of service, Pastis co-owners Stephen Starr and Keith McNally were on hand to make sure everything was spot on. Broken Palate asked McNally his thoughts on Miami, his viral Instagram posts, and what to order at Pastis Miami.
Broken Palate: From what you've seen, can you compare the Miami diners to NYC diners, so far?
Keith McNally: Hard to say. We've only been open three nights and so far half of our customers are ex-New Yorkers. Give me a month and I'll tell you.
BP: On your Instagram, you post dining reports from the GM — will the Miami Pastis GM do any dining reports and will you post them?
KM: Starting tonight, I'll definitely post them.
BP: What should a Pastis virgin order?
KM: Lamb navarin with asparagus and peas is one of the best dishes on the menu, and is surprisingly light. For appetizers, I’m torn between the scallops crudo and the leeks vinaigrette. But then again it’s hard for me to resist our escargots in garlic-parsley butter. Especially delicious is soaking up the garlic butter with bread. HEAVENLY!
BP: Can you tell Miamians some "Pastis dining rules" to ensure they don't show up on your Instagram feed?
KM: Insult the owner, but not the staff!
BP: What is the biggest difference, in your opinion, between Miami and NYC Pastis?
KM: Miami Pastis has a sensational garden. And the food - so far - is marginally better. All the mistakes we made in building and operating New York's Pastis, Stephen (Starr) and I tried hard to correct with the Miami Pastis. Whether we succeeded or not is not for me to judge.
BP: Pastis-branded toilet paper — to be "stolen" or NOT to be "stolen" as a souvenir? And how did that start?
KM: Probably my idea. All the silly ideas at Pastis come from me. All the sensible ones come from my partner, Stephen Starr.