Salt Bae’s London restaurant opening has been delayed and delayed and delayed again. But with no official opening date, no diners through the doors, and no steaks yet embalmed in gold leaf on the menu for £700, the restaurant has its first reviews: a stunning 38 of them.
As far back as eight months ago, the first arrived, self-consciously commenting on the limitations of its own form by proclaiming that “This place don’t need Reviews it’s an mark of excellence in its own,” followed by three heart-eyes emojis. Various hopes for opening followed, as fans waited for Nusr-et’s arrival. “We hope it opens as soon as possible.” “Still not open, it will be opens soon.”
And then, the first dissenter. One star. “Tastes like garbage.” A brave Alfie, putting their head above the parapet. Two months ago, a group say they came and were left missing the man, the salt bae himself: “We came, Nusr-et. Brother, you are missing.” Too busy sipping “cappuccinos” in Hollywood.
But then comes the review which somehow captures the contradictions of Salt Bae in their entirety — the building of the restaurant empire upon the back of a living meme. The turning of the boomer steakhouse into a performative act for the rich and famous. The occupational hazards of sprinkling salt from a great height. The fact that this man is so famous people will say they love and hate him before he’s even stabbed a single steak in London.
Google Reviews is best read first as a platform for restaurant owners wishing to deliver immaculate clapbacks to ridiculous customers, and second for determining whether or not a restaurant is worthy of further investigation by critical mass. The veracity is not the point. But these 38 souls leaving their opinion of a restaurant that hasn’t opened yet might just say more about the Salt Bae phenomenon than any of the city’s critics will muster come opening night.