BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 02: Salt Bae Nusret Gökçe and DJ Khaled attend The Four cast Sean Diddy Combs, Fergie, and Meghan Trainor Host DJ Khaled's Birthday Presented by CÎROC and Fox on December 2, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for Ciroc)
Jerritt Clark—Getty Images for Ciroc
By Cady Lang
January 25, 2018

Salt Bae, the Turkish chef who rose to viral meme-dom after an Instagram post of him gently and insouciantly anointing a large slab of red meat with salt went viral, might have curried favor as a chef with the high-profile likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Simone Biles, but when it comes to restaurant critics, it looks like he has a ways to go.

Salt Bae, or Nusret Gökçe as he’s otherwise known, recently opened up one of his Nusr-Et steakhouses in New York City‘s midtown (he currently has nine steakhouse restaurants located around the world) and the reviews are less than glowing; in fact, some might even say that the reviews are pretty salty.

Eater‘s critic Robert Sietsema declares Salt Bae’s iconic steak “a little rubbery and low on flavor” while also noting that even though his tab clocked in at a hot $320 for two people, his party went home hungry. Sietsema wasn’t the only one disgruntled by the price of seeing Salt Bae in the flesh; at GQ, Joshua David Stein bemoaned the lack of free tap water, eventually caving to forking over almost a ten-note for water for the table and a hefty bill for mediocre food and a fleeting moment with the social media doyen himself.

“Is the steak transcendent? No, the steak is mundane, somewhat tough and rather bland,” Stein writes. “The hamburger is overcooked. The tartare is over-chopped. The cocktails are terrible and the water—which we ended up buying—is $9 and does little to quench our thirst. Does that matter? It does not matter. One does not visit Salt Bae for steak alone any more than one goes to Mass for the wafers.”

However, it’s New York Post‘s critic Steve Cuozzo who might provide the most satisfyingly scathing indictment of Nusr-Et, beginning by calling it “Public Rip-off No. 1,” and going on to describe a $130 “shoe-leather-tough bone-in ribeye, which, for extra fun, was loaded with gruesome globs of fat.” His closing thoughts included a desire for “more substance” and “dishes that not only sultans can afford.”

Write to Cady Lang at cady.lang@timemagazine.com.

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