Meat lovers, sharpen your knives (and canines): Turkish celebrity chef Nusret Gökçe’s midtown steakhouse is gearing up for its soft opening.
“Salt Bae” himself was nowhere to be seen amid staffers at work when we “steaked” out the perimeter of the much-anticipated eatery at the base of the CBS building at 60 W. 53rd St. We did, however, spot a black-and-white, larger-than-life mural of the internet-famous butcher in his signature salt sprinkling pose, located on the wall behind a circular bar in the main Nusr-Et Steakhouse dining room. (An Instagram story posted to Gökçe’s account Sunday evening featured a photograph of the chef posing with it, a rose in hand.)
Other decorative accents spotted through the window included potted palms, an illuminated display of what appeared to be slabs of Himalayan pink salt and light fixtures in the shape of meat hooks. A glass display case toward the back of the room could potentially be used to store raw meat. On one eastern-facing window, the hashtag “Saltbae” is emblazoned.
The restaurant opening at the site of the former China Grill will be Gökçe’s seventh steakhouse, his second in the United States following the launch of a Miami outpost in November.
The space seats 150, with an outdoor area accommodating 80 more, the New York Times reported. A general menu posted on the Nusr-Et website suggests this latest location will serve a similar array of dishes as its counterparts: beef carpaccio and steak tartare as appetizers; beef in all cuts, from tenderloin to filet mignon to lokum (a tender, seared fillet named after the Turkish candy); whole racks of lamb; and baklava for dessert.
While the Times reported Nusr-Et Steakhouse’s opening date as Monday, a spokesman at the restaurant that day said it will not be immediately taking reservations from the public. A call to the Salt Bae’s eatery went to an automated phone system, but none of the extensions worked.
The chef’s rising star has been propelled by Instagram photos and videos documenting his sensual, dramatic way of handling meat, his trademark salt-flipping wrist action, his proclivity for dark shades and white T-shirts and his obsession with “The Godfather” films.
Disappointed as we were to miss the opportunity of seeing and/or meeting the man-turned-meme, we know for a fact he has been on the premises. An Instagram video posted on Sunday puts him behind the bar. Wearing what we gather to be a server’s uniform of a white button-down shirt and skinny black tie, Gökçe mimes with his typical theatrical flair the preparation of a cocktail, using as his prop what appears to be a cube of dry ice.
We’ll drink or eat pretty much anything he’s serving.