James Corden attends The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute benefit gala celebrating the opening of the “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” exhibition on Monday, May 2, 2022, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

James Corden admits he was ‘ungracious’ to restaurant staff: ‘It was wrong’

‘It is a comment I deeply regret, I understand the difficulties of being a server’

James Corden is telling his side of the story after getting banned — and then unbanned — from New York restaurant Balthazar.

On Monday’s episode of “The Late Late Show,” the TV host admitted he was “rude” and “ungracious” to the waitstaff at Balthazar, which prompted the restaurant owner, Keith McNally, to publicly bash him and temporarily ban him from the establishment.

“I considered tweeting about it or Instagramming about it, but whenever these sort of moments come my way, I like to adopt quite a British attitude of ‘Keep Calm and Carry on,’” Corden said at the top of Monday’s show.

“Things are going to get written about me. ‘Never Complain, Never Explain’ is very much my motto. But as my dad pointed out to me on Saturday, he said, ‘Son, well, you did complain, so you might need to explain.’”

The actor and comedian proceeded to recap his latest Balthazar visit in detail. While laying out the situation and owning up to his mistakes, Corden struck a more remorseful tone than he did last week when he deemed the Balthazar saga “silly” and insisted that he hadn’t “done anything wrong, on any level” in an interview with the New York Times.

Upon arriving at one of his “absolute favorite restaurants” for breakfast a couple weeks ago, Corden’s wife “explained that she has a serious food allergy,” he recalled.

The first time his wife was allegedly served the food she was allergic to, the table calmly sent the dish back and “all was good,” Corden said. However, after it allegedly happened twice more, the late-night personality “made a sarcastic, rude comment” about cooking the meal himself “in the heat of the moment,” he conceded.

“Look, when you make a mistake you’ve got to take responsibility, so I thought I would share with you what happened,” Corden told the audience.

“It is a comment I deeply regret. I understand the difficulties of being a server. I worked shifts at restaurants for years. I have such respect and I value anyone that does such a job. And the team at that restaurant are so great — that’s why I love it there. The restaurant manager and the server, they were lovely.”

After Corden made the snide remark, the waitstaff “brought out four glasses of Champagne as an apology,” which he and his party insisted wasn’t “necessary.” They’d “had a great time.”

Corden explained that because he didn’t “shout,” “scream,” “call anyone names,” “use derogatory language” or get out of his seat, he didn’t feel as if he had “done anything wrong.”

“But the truth is I have,” he continued. “I made a rude comment, and it was wrong. It was an unnecessary comment. It was ungracious to the server.”

But McNally has accused Corden of more than just reacting disrespectfully to a food allergy mishap. The “Cats” star also allegedly demanded free drinks and threatened to write a nasty Yelp review after he found a hair in his food, in addition to allegedly going ballistic after an egg-yolk omelet was served with fries instead of a side salad. On “The Late Late Show,” Corden briefly mentioned the hair but did not address anything else.

Roughly a week after the incident, restaurateur McNally called Corden out on Instagram for his behavior and banished him from the eatery. He characterized the entertainer as a “tiny cretin of a man,” as well as the “most abusive customer” Balthazar has ever had.

“When I read this post, immediately I got hold of [McNally’s] phone number, I called him straight away and I told him how upset I was … that anybody was hurt by anything that I had done, and anything that I had said,” Corden said on “The Late Late Show.”

“We had a good talk. He appreciated the call. I was so happy that we got to clear the air and I felt like we had dealt with it privately. But at this point, the story was out there and … people were upset.”

Corden said he “totally” understands and accepts the backlash that ensued on social media.

“I also hate … that I’ve ever upset anybody, ever,” he added. “It was never my intention. It just wasn’t.”

Following their phone conversation, McNally returned to Instagram to announce he had accepted Corden’s apology, forgiven him and lifted his punishment — citing a belief “in second chances.”

“I love that restaurant. I love the staff there,” Corden continued on “The Late Late Show.” “I hope I’m allowed in again one day, so when I’m back in New York, I can go there and apologize in person, which is something I will absolutely do.”

—Christi Carras, Los Angeles Times

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