If you have more money than sense, spending £850 on a gold-covered steak at a Knightsbridge restaurant is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. If you have more sense than money, then head to Durham or Sunderland.
The breathtakingly expensive gold tomahawk steaks sold in the celebrity-packed restaurants of Nusret Gökçe, known as Salt Bae, have attracted many headlines and a fair degree of mockery.
For John Stirk, a butcher and steakhouse owner, it prompted exasperation. “I love it when people post pictures of the food they’ve had and give us a good review. What annoys me about the restaurant in London is that there’s a lot more pictures of people posting receipts for how much they’ve paid for the food rather than the quality.”
Stirk’s team have created their own version of the steak, which has been added to the menu at his restaurants in Belmont, near Durham, and Sunderland. It feeds two and it costs £100.
“This time last year people couldn’t afford to feed their kids and now social media is full of receipts for how much they’ve spent at a restaurant,” said Stirk. “It just feels wrong. It doesn’t sit right with me.
“For me it was about showing that the gold-covered steak could be done cheaper and could be done better. It doesn’t have to cost the earth.”
Stirk said he was not saying £100 was cheap. “It’s not something you go out and have for your tea.”
But if it was a special occasion, people might consider it, said Stirk, who has been surprised at how popular the golden steaks have been at his steakhouses.
“The reaction has been out of this world. We sold about 30 over the weekend. The sentiment behind it wasn’t about putting a gold, flashy steak on our menu, it was about quality of food.”
Stirk, a former contestant on the BBC show Young Butcher of the Year, is not alone in taking on Salt Bae.
Gareth Mason, the head chef at Absolute bar and bistro in Westhoughton, Bolton, covered his signature whist pies in 24-carat gold to mock the “ludicrous” Salt Bae steak.
Also covered in gold were carrots, chips and sausage and bacon butties. “It’s more Morecambe Bay than Salt Bae,” Mason said. “We’ve got the traditional Lancashire dishes covered in gold for a fraction of the price you’d pay at his restaurant.”
As well as Stirk Bae and Morecambe Bae there has been Plant Bae, courtesy of the vegan food company THIS, which set up a food truck outside the Knightsbridge Nusr-Et restaurant handing out free vegan rolls.
Andy Shovel, co-founder of THIS, said: “We felt sorry for all these people turning up for a nice meal and then being whacked with a massive bill. You shouldn’t have to sell your kidney or to have delicious food.”