Everyone’s favorite 2017 meme, the “oh that guy” of the culinary universe, the world’s foremost fan of white T-shirts, dark sunglasses, and causing a social media ruckus, Turkish-born Nusret Gökçe, aka Salt Bae, has arrived. After years of waiting, more than one failed location, and lots of speculation, Gökçe quietly opened his Beverly Hills steakhouse Nusr-Et at 184 N. Canon Drive over the weekend, and the only folks who seem to have noticed are Yelpers and Jason Statham.
Seriously, Jason Statham.
For everyone else who hasn’t bothered to pay attention: Salt Bae originally planned to open a restaurant in the Arts District back in 2018, branching out from his international steakhouse chain Nusr-Et to open a more casual burger option that would itself be called Salt Bae. Eventually, that deal fell through here, though one did open in 2020 in New York City, earning lots of negative press along the way.
Instead, Mr. Bae moved west to the wilds of Beverly Hills, taking over the closed Citizen space right by Wolfgang Puck’s famed Spago. The pandemic certainly slowed the opening of his 90210 meat palace, with its dark couches, balcony seating, outdoor sidewalk dining, and multiple areas from which to gawk at likeness of Gökçe himself, but now that’s all been pushed away like loose strands of ponytail hair. He’s here.
Yelpers have largely heaped praise on the opening, thanking Gökçe for cutting expensive steaks in front of them and offering his signature off-the-elbow salt waterfall to anyone who asks. Of course, Bae isn’t exactly following Los Angeles County public health protocols by serving food without a mask on (or doing his tableside presentation, which is considered a no-no per the LA County Department of Public Health), but that seems for most fans of Gökçe to be of little concern anyway.
It’s been a busy past few years for the living meme and international restaurateur. Most recently he’s been working with his team on a Las Vegas opening, while also dealing with long lines of fans for his recently-arrived Dallas steakhouse. He’s also been fending off lawsuits for copyright infringement, unpaid contractor work in Texas, and for allegedly stiffing staff members for owed tips and wages at various East Coast locations, all while seeing his Boston outlet closed for not following COVID-19 protocols during the pandemic. In 2018, Gökçe received a heavy amount of political blowback for eating with and serving Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro at one of his properties.