We have officially reached peak internet.
Salt Bae – the chiselled, salt-scattering adonis formerly known as butcher Nusret Gökçe, universally canonised as the meme of 2017 – is opening a restaurant in London.
This, in itself, is not particularly insane news – because before breaking Instagram with his distinctive arm-cocking, Gökçe was, ahem, a seasoned steak restaurateur back in his homeland of Turkey.
It wasn’t long before his chain made it across the pond to Miami, and, as of January, New York – and now plans of dusting the UK with his illustrious salt-slinging presence have finally been confirmed. Details on the London venture are, like his pecs, kept tightly under wraps – we’re not even sure if the Bae himself will be making an appearance – but we do know about his latest spot in NYC.
And it sounds mental.
The restaurant is huge. The decor seems to channel the aesthetic of a New Age cultist’s lair, juxtaposing Himalayan salt lamps with 20-foot tapestries of Salt Bae himself. The bar bubbles over with smoking cocktails and waiters stride around majestically in leather aprons. There are, for undisclosed reasons, large pictures of Marlon Brando in the toilets.
The reviews over in NYC have been largely lukewarm about the food itself – Robert Sietsema left hungry, finding the close-up meat prep “slightly weird and also slightly gross,” while GQ’s Joshua David Stein described the steak as “mundane, somewhat tough and rather bland”. But, as every critic has also pointed out, nobody in that restaurant is there to eat – especially not with $275 steaks on the menu.
Instead, it’s pure dining theatre; servers seem to cook half the menu table-side, “lubing up” thick rubber gloves to caress your carpaccio, blowtorching ‘meat sushi’ an inch from your eyebrows and drenching herbs in liquid nitrogen “for the flavour”. It may be prudent to dine with a go-pro strapped to your head to avoid the inevitable Instagram arm fatigue. Yet all that’s a mere warm-up act for the pièce de résistance: the quasi-religious encounter with Bae himself, who appears (in sunglasses, even for dinner service), slices up your Tomahawk, and blesses the dish with a pinch of salt flakes that cascade down his shapely forearm onto anything and everything, including a significant stretch of New York Times critic Pete Wells’ trousers. Then, he retreats without a word (he is reported not to speak any English, but fortunately can “communicate to people through meat”). He is something between an enigmatic salt sprite and the internet incarnate.
It will be bamboozling and sensual. It will be the first portal to truly blur the lines between the virtual and physical realms. It will almost certainly be overpriced.
But, perhaps in one sense more than the other, it will improve your feed.
NOTE: The Nusr-Et Steakhouse is set to open within the Park Tower Knightsbridge Hotel. No opening date has been released yet, but we are all waiting with baited breath.
Nusr-Et Steakhouse | The Park Tower Knightsbridge, 101 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7RN
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