Go for the novelty factor. You’ll get a show and a good cut of meat. Bottom line: Comparable to other top-line steakhouses, Ruth’s Chris, The Palms, etc., but this one offers a daily, non-stop, 12-hour spectacle, thanks to the internet-famed co-owner of this self-titled steak house.
What to order
Meat. Do you even have to ask?
#Saltbae isn’t just an Internet meme. It’s a phenomenon.
I find most restaurant critics far too harsh. Many have dogged his presentation, but those stuffy old farts can’t shake a fork at my buttery Nusr-Et Special with a bone marrow placed at center (sorry, you can’t eat it, it’s just for show). Haters can hate, but I’ll be enjoying my steak …
Compared to the rest of the U.S., New York City steakhouses are in an entirely different league. The Palm is considered a standard steakhouse. Amidst (literally) bloody competition, this Turkish delight of a dining room touts a mean T-bone and tender chops, and has been razzle-dazzling restaurant culture in Istanbul and beyond since 2010. With six locations in Turkey and Dubai, videos on Salte Bae’s Instagram, spotlighting his treatment of meat, fueled his foodie fanbase.
Money Score: OK
Food-wise, the value for your dollar could use improvement. I didn’t find prices to be obscene. The beef is as good as The Palm’s, but is priced 15-20 percent higher. Yes, pricier than your Ruth’s Chris, but here, you’re paying for an experience.
I know people who would live in a box but spend $5,000 on a trip to Italy. You go for the experience, and only you can decide where your priorities lie price-wise.
Consciousness Score: Needs Improvement
They’re apt to source the “finest ingredients,” yet there is no distinction. I enjoyed my meal, but I want to know more about where it comes from.
When asked, the staff replied they couldn’t tell me if the cows were grass-fed or corn-fed, “but the quality was definitely there.” Their reasoning: It doesn’t really matter what they were fed as much as how the meat is treated.
The quality meat varies from season to season, from Japan to Australia and other parts of the globe, and their expert team of butchers apparently selects the best. But they couldn’t tell us more, or explain how source contributes taste/texture.
In sum, justifying price for value needs improvement.
‘All the Feels’ Score: Good
Take your blind date. No doubt you’ll have something to talk about. Salt Bae has caused quite a ruckus with his recent NYC restaurant opening, and Manhattan comes out to see him in action.
The celebrity chef–and often star clientele, such as David Beckham–heightens the experience. (Google those #saltbae memes, if you haven’t already.) I loved that he came out to say hello, as did the GM.
The audience was young, hip, fresh–even families with young children came to see the Salt Bae. Packed with upper- and middle-market diners, anyone who has achieved celebrity status for his own memes certainly needs to take credit for that. I felt like I’d snagged a seat at the hippest dinner theatre in town.
Dishes come out in grandeur, and are cut and served right at the table in a synchronized crescendo–like what I imagine the kings with jesters and a royal court would have had.
The setting: Open, modern, and dotted with palm trees; portrait-style glass windows and tall ceilings that made me feel like I was dining in an extremely spacious greenhouse in the Middle East. Well, at least in the renovated parts of it.
On the downside: Bony rear-end or not, the wooden chairs were downright uncomfortable. Opt for the padded ones!
When at a steakhouse, order steak. The oysters were not good. We are oyster lovers, but these were a pass. And I wondered why the waiter gave us an odd look… lesson learned.
As for meat, we opted for the Nusr-Et smorgasboard, also known as the Nusr-Et Special. They’re not shy about the fact that they douse the meat in butter. In fact, they own it. Ruth’s Chris is shy about it, but this plate of thinly sliced beef comes swimming in butter, and by gosh, it’s delicious. (Extra delicious when you dip your bread in to mop the melt-in-your-mouth, buttery meatiness up!). Bonus: A bone marrow at center plate. To balance out the fatty cut, a side of asparagus to share. The texture was fresh, crisp. Scrumptious!
We also ordered ribs, which were fall-off-the-bone tender. The Nusret Burger with a side of fries and ketchup (served in a wire basket like they do in French bistros) was super thick, deep, accented with oozing sharp cheddar cheese and a warm bun. Not for the faint of heart!
For a sweet yet savory ending to a meat-driven meal, opt for the house-famed Baklava topped with pistachios and cloud-like cream in the center. There is a documentary about it, and it was certainly cinema-worthy! The creme flowed out of the side like a waterfall of whipped cream. The vanilla ice cream was extra thick, churned with rich Turkish goat milk.
The grande finale: Coffee with a bite-sized Turkish delight infused with rose petal and pistachio.
Pull up a chair. You’re in for some entertainment. Nusret Gökçe, a “cut” (ripped) Turkish butcher and chef, is sharpening knives at Nusr-Et–his chain of Kurish steak houses. When was the last time you went to a restaurant and had a guy who slightly resembles The Rock, wearing a skin-tight crew neck, sunglasses and sporting a ponytail cut into your T-bone? That’s what we thought. They call him “Salt Bae”. And yes, there’s a hashtag for that.