Remember Salt Bae? He Now Has 22 Very (Very) Lucrative Restaurants
Swarms of customers were equally divided. A Google reviewer called the London outpost “the worst high cost steak house” in the city, while a customer in New York said the cheeseburgers were “ridiculous tender” and the fries were “seasoned perfectly.”
For many lured in by the meme, Salt Bae’s menu is irrelevant. “If you go in here ready for a really stupid time with a guy that got famous for dropping salt on his forearm and don’t mind overpaying for a steak dinner, you will have an enjoyable time,” one Yelp reviewer wrote, giving the Midtown location four stars. For others, the performance was disappointing. While watching the meme play out in real life, Eater’s Robert Sietsema found the reenactment “a little stale.”
Everything’s expensive (especially the gold-covered tomahawk steak for $1,160)
Even critics who routinely eat at expensive restaurants couldn’t stomach the costs of a night out with Salt Bae. “The Ottoman steak is substantial, and $130 is not an unparalleled price for a rib-eye in New York,” Wells wrote in The New York Times. “But the spaghetti steak and the lokum were each $70 for what I’d guess was about eight ounces of beef.” Steve Cuozzo’s New York Post review went harder. “Nusr-Et was Public Rip-off No. 1,” he wrote in 2018. “An up-and-mostly down meal for three, where each of us had just one cocktail and one glass of bad wine” for $521.45.
A recent bill for 37,023 pounds ($50,888) from a table of four at the almost one-year-old Nusr-Et Steakhouse London sparked outrage after one of the diners posted the itemized receipt on Reddit. The charges included Salt Bae’s famous 24-karat gold–wrapped tomahawk steak costing 850 pounds ($1,160), three orders of seasoned fries for 30 pounds ($41), and 16 wedges of baklava for 400 pounds ($549). A few weeks after the restaurant opened, another guest tweeted a photo of his receipt, which totaled 1,812 pounds ($2,091). “44 great british pounds for 4 redbulls… havin a laugh,” he wrote.
Gökçe’s meat empire has allegedly been rife with labor problems, like sex discrimination and wage theft
In 2019, a former server filed a class-action lawsuit claiming that Gökçe was skimming tips from Manhattan’s Midtown location before distributing them to employees. The case was settled for $300,000. That same year, a server at Nusr-Et’s Miami location alleged she had to work lower paying jobs and shifts because of her sex. His Boston location was temporarily shuttered in late 2020 by the city for not following Covid protocols. In 2021, five employees who had emigrated from Turkey to work in the US alleged that Gökçe was stiffing them on overtime, a lawsuit that was eventually dismissed. And a job posting offering $16 to work as a chef de partie at Gökçe’s London steakhouse came under fire this year—a bad look from a guy whose gold leaf and prime beef budgets appear bottomless.