Thursday, June 20News For London

A steakout: protest at Salt Bae’s restaurant unravels a cost-of-living dilemma

Eco-activists, Animal Rebellions, spark a conversation beyond their cause.

Image Credits: Animal Rebellion

Animal Rebellion, a group of animal and climate justice activists, held a demonstration at Nusr-Et, an upmarket steak restaurant owned by Salt Bae in Knightsbridge.

The restaurant has an extravagant menu that serves food items such as a ‘Golden Burger’ for £100, a ‘Golden Giant Tomahawk steak’ for £1,450, among many others.

The demonstration’s goal aligned with Animal Rebellion’s primary aim to campaign ‘plant-based food system and mass rewilding’.

The protesters, who were physically removed by the restaurant staff, claimed that the treatment was harsher than the police.

The aftermath of the incident created a buzz on social media. While the staggering prices had created an uproar when the restaurant launched last year, the cost-of-living crisis sparked a new conversation.

This protest demonstration at Nusr-Et poses a bigger question – who is really facing the brunt of the cost-of-living crisis?

With exuberant prices at ultra-premium restaurants at Knightsbridge, which it is famously known for, the cost-of-living crisis puts forth an ethical dilemma.

According to Statista, over two million people in the United Kingdom used food banks in 2021-22, with the number seeing an exponential increase amidst the crisis. Meanwhile, restaurants that are charging exuberant prices at their restaurants.

Karren Farhat, a student from University of Westminster, said: “The imbalance is staggering. With the holiday season, the restaurants are focused on maximising business. I personally have tried to reserve a spot in a luxury restaurant only to find that it’s completely booked for weeks. So, maybe restaurants don’t feel the need to assess the situation from a students’ perspective. They definitely should have a moral obligation and strive to create a balance for Londoners who’re facing a problem.” 

Also read: Students reach their breaking point: a cost-of-living worry

While many agree that this calls for upmarket restaurants to take a more ethical approach, others have a different argument. Salil Saurabh, 62, a marketing specialist, said: “There’s a top level of economy in the UK that is still thriving. The restaurant caters to that. It’s all about business. I don’t think Salt Bae is representative of anything but that – especially in a cost-of-living crisis. I don’t really see an ethical conflict here.”

He added: “People involved in high-end businesses have a huge supply chain behind them. The other way to look at it would be that a lot of peoples’ livelihood depends on the functioning of this restaurant whether it’s the steak suppliers all the way to the staff at the restaurant.” 

The question that continues to linger is whether upmarket restaurants drive a divide between different economic strata of the country. Amidst the cost-of-living crisis, the question only gets more complex.