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So expensive, it’s ‘embarrassing’

The bill in question came from a party of four who shelled out an eye-watering 398,630 United Arab Emirates Dirham ($108,000) at Gökçe’s Nusr-Et Steakhouse in Dubai in late January.

The group ordered beef carpaccio, french fries, salad, golden baklava and fruit platters for a combined total of $1,496 — not far off the average monthly rent for an apartment in the U.S., which is now $1,702, according to Rent Cafe.

But that expense pales in comparison to what they spent on Salt Bae’s signature gold-covered beef. The foursome feasted on three golden steaks for a combined total of $1,388, a filet mignon priced at $272 and a golden giant tomahawk steak for $1,361.

They also splashed out on four porn-star martinis ($130), two bottles of Chateau Petrus 2009 ($53,906), one bottle of Petrus 2011 ($17,697) and five double glasses of exclusive Louis XIII cognac neat ($7,487), among other drinks.

And to top it off, the diners added a 22% tip, of around $24,500.

While one Instagram user replied to Gökçe’s boastful post: “Some folk have more money than sense and it’s their business,” others took aim at the group’s exuberant spending — and Nusr-Et’s exorbitant pricing — at a time when many countries are battling high inflation and a cost-of-living crisis.

One user described it as “shameful, as millions of people suffer from hunger,” while another pointed out: “That would feed at least 100,000 children in hunger around the world! How embarrassing!”

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Will the meme king fall?

This isn’t the first time the meme king’s reign — and his over-the-top antics at his 22 restaurants worldwide — have been challenged.

In April 2023, Business Insider published an exposé on Gökçe, featuring a string of lawsuits and interviews with nine former staff members from six of his restaurants.

“It looks gold from the outside,” a former bartender at Nusr-Et London told Business Insider. “But s— from inside.”

His former employees made allegations of wage theft, discrimination, labor violations and fear mongering — which Gökçe’s lawyer at the time, Christy Reuter, dismissed as “salacious and meritless claims.”

Shortly after, in June 2023, Gökçe had to shut down his spin-off Salt Bae Burger joint in Manhattan, which featured a $99 gold-flecked milkshake and a $100 gold burger, encased in gold foil.

The uber-pricey burger joint opened in late February 2020 — just before NYC went into COVID-19 lockdowns — and it struggled to launch when things reopened. This was not helped by the dismal reviews, including one scathing assessment from Gothamist food writer, Scott Lynch who dubbed it the city’s worst restaurant.

“I had the unfortunate opportunity a few weeks ago to eat several sad servings of hospital food, and everything I had at Salt Bae was worse,” Lynch writes, comparing the metal-framed menu to a “tombstone apparently marking the death of everything pleasurable about eating.”

The New York Post has also called Nusr-Et Steakhouse “Public Rip-off No. 1” for its wallet-draining price tags and unimpressive dishes. Commenters on Gökçe’s recent Instagram post alluded to the unreasonable pricing at Nuzr-Et as well, with one stating: “Most overrated and overpriced restaurant,” while another wrote: “Imagine being this wealthy and blowing it on food that isn't worth it.”

Temperature and price aside, perhaps some people do think it’s worth it for the flamboyant showmanship that Salt Bae never fails to deliver — but you’d certainly want to think twice before dropping, for most people, an entire house down payment on one meal.

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Bethan Moorcraft is a reporter for Moneywise with experience in news editing and business reporting across international markets.

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