Salt Bae (aka Nusret Gökçe), the internet meme in human form and food-media fixation ever since he was first Instagrammed sprinkling flakes of Maldon salt onto red meat early last year, has lost much of his shine recently. His signature seasoning technique may violate New York City’s health code. Critics weren’t all that impressed with his NYC restaurant. More concerning, he served an extravagant steak dinner to Venezuelan “leader” Nicolás Maduro, whose people are facing starvation, and received backlash from protesters and Yelpers. This latest development inspired Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio to tweet out the phone number for Mr. Bae’s Miami restaurant and encourage his followers to inundate the establishment with complaints.
And now, there’s a bizarre new wrinkle to the Salt Bae saga. Donald J. Trump Jr., son of president of the United States Donald J. Trump — who was elected in 2016 with overwhelming Republican support, including that of Rubio — ate at Salt Bae’s New York restaurant on Thursday night and was so excited that he documented the theatrics on Instagram. Junior posted about the dinner in his Insta story and in a full-fledged ’gram. “This happened tonight,” he crowed to his 1.3 million followers. “Amazing meal.” He made sure to tag the social media-famous restaurateur in his post.
Will this meeting of minds cause as many headaches for the Republican party as the Trump Tower meeting that’s at the center of the Mueller investigation? And will Trump Jr.’s visit to Nusr-Et draw the same kind of protests other restaurants have seen for hosting Republicans? Only time will tell. Perhaps this is just an example of a young man ticking a box on his bucket list and living out the dream of meeting his idol.