Zaid Khashogji & Rahaf Jambi
RIYADH: When you think about the restaurant Nusr-et, what comes to mind is salt, meat and a great show. And this is what you get when visiting Nusr-et in Riyadh U Walk, an area known for its high-end dining experiences.
Turkish celebrity chef Nusret Gokce, better known as Salt Bae, opened his first restaurant branch in the Kingdom last week and his 28th overall.
Arab News paid a visit to see what he had prepared.
Customers are met with a warm and inviting atmosphere upon entering, with friendly and smiling staff. Walking through and looking around, there are golden, embossed and emblazoned items everywhere. The walls, the furniture, the bar, and even some items on the menu tell you exactly whose restaurant this is.
“It’s marvelous, the food, the show, everything. The guy (Nusret) performs, he’s a phenomenon,” Guillaume Rochette from France told Arab News. “Only he could warrant SR1,000 ($267) a head for one dish, but it’s fantastic. I ordered the ribeye, mashed potato, the Nusr-et signature salad and, of course, the baklava.”
When going to a restaurant famous for its meat, vegetarian dishes would not necessarily be thought of as its forte. But Nusr-et’s signature salad fared well, dressed with walnuts and a balsamic vinaigrette, ticking all the boxes and filling you up just enough to prepare your stomach for the star of the show.
Tender, juicy and rich with fat that flavors the beef, the Wagyu porterhouse steak is the one to order. At a steep price point of SR1,500, the portion size is large and can be shared between two or three people.
Items on the menu like the porterhouse bring Salt Bae himself to the table, where he showcases his knife skills on your steak and, of course, executes his signature salt sprinkle at the end.
Some of the other popular meat dishes include the meat sushi, the meat spaghetti, and the Ottoman steak, with the cook on all prepared to the liking and taste of the customer.
In addition to preparing and seasoning the meat, Gokce also likes to take pictures with diners, which makes for a more special experience.
The name of the restaurant chain is a play on his own name and the word “et,” meaning meat in Turkish.
As of 2021, the chef has branches in Turkey, Greece, the US, the UK, the UAE, Qatar, and now Saudi Arabia.
The restaurant has received mixed reviews since it opened in London and divided people on its prices.
Rochette, who co-founded his own hospitality company, said: “The whole key (concept) Nusr-et has achieved here is driving sales by delivering quality. Sure, it’s expensive but it’s quality.”
The atmosphere at Nusr-et is classy during the day, with movie-themed soundtracks like “The Godfather” playing in the background. At this time, you can expect a quieter and more intimate experience before it starts to get busier around 7:00 p.m.
“Saudis like going out late, it’s always more exciting at night,” Rochette said. “It’s not a place you want to be early for, I think you want to enjoy the buzz later on.”
After the lights dim, around 8:30 p.m. and more people have arrived, the place comes alive.
“It was my first time here at the Riyadh branch and it was very enjoyable, very good meat. It’s a great experience everyone should try at least once,” the Frenchman said.