New York City is widely known for many things. Fine dining is at the top of any list about the joys of living or visiting America’s largest city. Diners have high understandably very high expectations and large wallets. In turn they expect superb food and service. Not surprisingly many people have opinions about what constitutes good food and what does not. Restaurateurs who are opening up a new restaurant here will be held to high standards from both the print media and casual diners. Should a restaurant fail to live up to their expectations, a restaurant owner can expect to hear about it and often quite vocally. Such is the case with a new venture. Salt Bae has so far been on the receiving end of some rather intense criticism.
A Personal Empire
Salt Bae is the vision of one man. Located in the Black Rock building in the heart of Manhattan at 60 West 53rd St, Salt Bae is all about the carnivore. Nusret Gökçe is a Turkish national who has shown the world his butchering skills. His personal empire includes five steakhouses as well as two burger places. He began his career in 2018 when his first restaurant opened. He employs roughly four hundred people around the world. Since he first burst on the scene, he’s become a media sensation for his love of meat and salt. Several videos have garnered him a huge following. People have gazed at him as he piles salt on steaks he’s personally butchered with his own knife. A single video went viral in 2016 with more than ten million views. Many celebrities came to admire his signature style and apparent ability to salt meat from a distance. Under those circumstances, it’s not surprising that diners are expecting a fabulous meal when they head for his new venture.
Despite his apparent skills, he has come under increasing scrutiny both for charging a great deal of money and for not serving particularly good meat. At Salt Bae, his prices are sky high. Even New Yorkers used to a three digit tab for a single dinner are shocked after a visit to this latest branch of his culinary empire. One critic has let the world know exactly what he thinks is wrong with the thirteenth locale of Nusret Gokce’s growing list of restaurants. Publicist Ronn Torossian is a demanding diner and a highly influential man. As one of the leading publicists in the country, he is the founder of 5W Public Relations. With an estimated twenty-four million dollars in annual revenues, 5W is considered one of the nation’s most successful public relations firms. When he speaks, people listen.
In a recent tweet, Torossian condemned Salt Bae for failing on multiple levels. In his view, the restaurant offers bad service and ridiculously high pricing. His tweet includes a bill that reveals the restaurant charged him and a group of guests a staggering twenty-eight dollars for four diet cokes. The place also charged them seventy-five bucks for three salads. He called it a scam and rip off. He also pointed out that they do not serve diners New York’s world renowned tap water. This means the goal is to charge money rather than please guests in any way. Torossian also slammed the restaurant for charging him and his guests over five hundred dollars for a few steaks. The total bill for a single lunch came an astonishing $1400 after taxes and tip were tallied.
Other voices have joined in with Torossian to offer equally scathing criticism. Steve Cuozzo writes for the New York Post. He described a meal at Salt Bae with deep contempt. He was charged over five hundred for a meal for two. Despite the price, he was not impressed. Cuozzo described the steak as being akin to shoe leather. He also said he was not even sated and left hungry. Other critics have also joined in to voice their displeasure with the new venture. A critic at GQ did not like anything served here. He, like many others, said any diners should not come here for the food. Many other locals have posted to voice their frustrations at the mediocrity of the meat in a restaurant allegedly devoted to high quality meat. Additionally, there may be health code violations.
Despite the fury and contempt, Nusret Gokce remains true to himself. He shrugs off the latest round of criticism and chooses not to respond. His many followers are expected to do the same. Gokce is in negotiations to open up a second restaurant in New York City. While the critics may carp, he expects to continue to charge the prices he wants and serve the meat he loves. It remains to be seen how the public responds to his new venture and any upcoming ventures.