by Am New York
on January 24, 2018
The reviews for Salt Bae’s new midtown steakhouse are in, and critics are saying Nusr-Et isn’t the prime cut all the fanfare (and Instagram posts) led us to expect.
New Yorkers have been salivating over the anticipated local outpost of Turkish butcher and internet meme Nusret Gökçe’s international red meat empire for months, but, after dining there this past week, the New York Post’s Steve Cuozzo and Eater’s Robert Sietsema report that the restaurant at the base of the CBS building at 60 W. 53rd St. has failed to “meat” their expectations.
Panning the “underwhelming” eatery as “Public Rip-off No. 1,” Cuozzo writes that his meal left him wanting “more substance with the smoke and salt — and dishes that not only sultans can afford.” Dramatic tableside service wasn’t enough to distract the critic from the bill that arrived at the meal’s end: “An up-and-mostly down meal for three, where each of us had just one cocktail and one glass of bad wine each, cost a whopping $521.45 — and left us craving a snack.”
Sietsema left the 150-seat restaurant with room in his belly, too, he writes. Nusr-Et, which opened its doors last Monday, delivers as dinner theater (especially when Salt Bae himself slices the meat, slaps it with his knife and sprinkles salt with his trademark hand-puppet gesture), but not as a Turkish steakhouse.
Neither critic cared for their $25 salad. Cuozzo describes his as a heap of “days-old iceberg lettuce and mystery greens with tasteless goat cheese and a few walnuts, raisins and pomegranate seeds.” Sietsema says his butter lettuce leaves were so tough they must be served with steak knives.
Of course, mediocre salad need not drive the steak into the heart of a carnivore’s paradise, but both reviewers also take issue with the quality of Nusr-Et’s meat: a “butcher’s blade attack on a $130, ‘mustard-marinated Ottoman steak’ failed to sufficiently tenderize the shoe-leather-tough bone-in ribeye,” at Cuozzo’s table, “which, for extra fun, was loaded with gruesome globs of fat.”
According to Sietsema, the cuts are mostly a “little rubbery and low” on flavor, because they’re “wet-aged wagyu beef,” or meat from Wagyu cattle aged in vacuum-sealed bags for up to 48 days.
Both men express disappointment over the paltry handful of potato chips served with Nusr-Et’s $30 burger. (Even DB Bistro Moderne’s famed $35 burger stuffed with braised short ribs, foie gras and black truffle comes with fries.)
Sietsema wins the competition for the zingiest burn, with his descriptions of the steakhouse’s unique service: in what the food reviewer calls the “the grossest act of the evening” (having already sized up Salt Bae’s shtick as “slightly weird, “slightly gross” and in need of a “second act”), a waiter preparing sushi at the table “liberally lubed up gloves with oil before forming four tiny lozenges of rice and wrapping very thin pieces of filet around them.”
Our conclusion (in part because we most certainly cannot afford dinner at Nusr-Et): if you’ve got the money to burn, perhaps it’s wisest to make reservations at Peter Luger and watch Gökçe salt someone else’s steak on Instagram while sinking your teeth into a dry-aged porterhouse.
What say you, Pete Wells? We’re still waiting on a companion piece to that masterful Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar review.
photo credit: Getty Images for Laureus / Stuart C. Wilson