Salt Bae: If you pay £850 for a steak wrapped in golf leaf, you only have yourself to blame – Stephen Jardine

We need to talk about Salt Bae. For those who have missed his arrival in the UK – and congratulations on that – Nusret Gökçe is a Turkish butcher-turned-chef who shot to fame thanks to his curious party trick of dropping salt from a height onto his forearm and then onto meat.

Turkish restaurateur Nusret Gokce, also known as Salt Bae, in his restaurant Nusr-Et at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul (Picture: Ozan Kose/AFP via Getty Images)
Turkish restaurateur Nusret Gokce, also known as Salt Bae, in his restaurant Nusr-Et at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul (Picture: Ozan Kose/AFP via Getty Images)

In the world of social media, that earns you nearly 40 million followers on Instagram and the nickname Salt Bae.

Armed with this and an image modelled on a Poundshop James Bond baddie, he has been opening restaurants around the world, with London his latest destination.

The basic formula is always the same. The menu features predictable options but at outrageous prices… grilled salmon and mashed potatoes with out-of-season asparagus for £50, anyone? But that’s not why people flock to his restaurant.

They go for the golden feast section where everything from burgers to baklava is encased in gold leaf and priced accordingly. Star of the show is a Tomahawk steak for one person, priced at £850.

Since opening day, the tabloids have been full of tales of outrageous excess surrounding the restaurant in Knightsbridge. One table of four managed to spend £37,000 and still left unhappy.

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On TripAdvisor, the restaurant has managed to attract four one-star reviews in the past week, with feedback ranging from “utter rubbish” to “over-priced Tik-Tok food”.

Which begs the question, what on earth were they expecting? You can’t blame the man himself. Salt Bae, like a real-life modern version of Harry Enfield’s Loadsamoney character, is completely open and transparent about what he does.

The blame for this whole pantomime lies with his customers. London is the best city in the world when it comes to eating out, with sensational restaurants to satisfy every price bracket. If, given all that choice, you end up queuing behind the golden rope to be admitted to Salt Bae’s place then you deserve everything you get.

Going to a restaurant should be about the food, the drinks, the service, the company and the whole experience. Thanks to Instagram, it has been reduced to posting videos of gold leaf meat being dumped on your plate so you can show you have £850 in the bank or a decent limit level on your credit card.

It would be nice to think someone with that cash to spend would also be making a donation to charity but I think we all know that is probably not happening.

So instead I’m going to put my trust in this theory. In a few months’ time, Salt Bae will pull off the joke ponytail, moustache and dark glasses and be revealed as Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest comic creation. An accompanying film will be released in cinemas with Russian gangsters and Essex conmen being fleeced out of thousands in exchange for over-cooked steaks from Makro.

The film will end with Baron Cohen giving all the cash from the Salt Bae stunt to Britain’s 2,000 food banks, just in time for Christmas.

Those who paid out will pretend they were in on the joke all the time and the rest of us won’t feel like the world is going mad. Wouldn’t that be nice?

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