Sometimes you just need to get out of Miami, even if it’s a 45-minute drive up to Hollywood at the Diplomat Beach Resort (and the largest convention hotel in the state).
Why, you ask?
Food. The answer is always food. And booze. And sound-proof karaoke rooms. These are the things that had us trek North for a weekend staycation where we ate and drank our way through the recently renovated property with some of the best views and hotel rooms we’ve stayed in (if you follow us you know we just got back from Europe hotel heaven, so that’s saying something).
You’ll definitely want to start your morning at the spa for a little R&R. Followed by some poolside lounging at Playa with a piña colada in one hand and coloring pencils in the other (we’re talented like that) is just as therapeutic as the power of touch. If you like to keep out of the sun (like some of us—cough cough, Lauren and Olee), cabanas provide comfortable luxury and plenty of shade, and—if you’re lucky—they just might be showing Harry Potter for the wizard and witches in the group.
Paddle boarding, jet skiing, beach yoga, and catamaran excursions give you plenty to do and are sure to work up an appetite, so pick up a juice cleanse and a bottle of canned rose at The Canteen to help you out. Repeat accordingly.
When the clock strikes 5:30, make your way to Point Royal for oyster hour where celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian and former Beachcraft executive chef and Diplomat’s now corporate chef Michael Fiorello have concocted a menu featuring a slew of oceanic delights. The aptly named oyster hour lets you have freshly shucked bivalves alongside pretty potent margaritas for $7, though eating your way through the regular menu is also highly recommended. Get a seafood tower and do like we do with a dirty martini to wash it down. Then, do try Point Royal’s Ugly Burger, Oyster Po’Boy, Alaskan King Crab Ricotta Dumplings, Steamed Maine Mussels with creme fraiche and dijon mustard, and GZ’s (that’s Geoffrey Zakarian’s) Poached Lobster Roll that takes a whole crustacean and douses it in a piquant Coleman’s mustard sauce.
If you’re only heading up North for one dinner, we suggest the $65 per person tasting menu at Monkitail. Celebrity chef and restaurateur Michael Schulson (Schulson Collective) brings his modern Japanese fare to this charming izakaya that’s as great for one-on-one romancing as it is for groups. The tasting menu proffers 10 selections, one from each of the menu sections (cold, small, rolls, sushi & sashimi, crispy, meat, fish, sides, specialty sashimi, and robayataki). We let chef do his thing and show us what Monkitail is all about, which includes pristine fish, cloud-like buns, an off-menu green veggie roll that’s to die for, broiled seabass with truffle soy and pea shoot, and an assortment of melt in your mouth rib eye scallion, Kobe beef, and short rib robatayaki. For dessert, ice cream sushi is in order. In it: rice cereal, peanut butter, chocolate, and toffee.
After dinner comes—you guessed it—karaoke. Tucked behind Monkitail is a Nokku, a karaoke speakeasy where you and your squad can sing your hearts out in private rooms and choose from a bible of every song imaginable (both in English and Spanish). What goes good with karaoke? Cocktails. Lots of them. Monkitail’s cocktail list is available here and worth drinking your way through its entirety, specifically the Blood Orange Paloma (with tequila, chili, and soda) and the signature Monkitail with bourbon, rye, vermouth, and barrel stave smoke. There’s also a Ming Mule with mint and lychee and a Grilled Peach Mojito (amongst others). You know what they say: the more you knock back the better you get at karaoke. The worse the hangover, too.
Of course it’s nothing a fried chicken sandwich can’t fix. Get your fix of the latter at Bristol’s Burger on-site. And if it happens to be sugar Sunday’s, follow it up with Fruity Pebbles Macaroons, strawberry milkshakes, and ice cream sundae’s with chocolate gorilla’s at Candy Cones sweet shop.
If you know us, you know we like to save the very best for last, and at Diplomat Beach Resort that means Prime. While it was the first meal we enjoyed (and devoured), it was the best, especially considering how skeptical we were about “just another steakhouse.” But Diplomat’s Prime isn’t your average steakhouse. Besides heavenly house baked bread with warm salted butter, the menu has lots to love. Roasted beets are some of the best in town, served with compressed watermelon, pistachio, red sorrel, Malden blue cheese, and aged sherry vinegar. Octopus with edamame hummus, black olive, French feta, and daikon radish is an amalgamation and explosion of flavors and textures. A luxury boutique steakhouse is only as good as its steak tartare, and the one here delivers by way of yuzu shallots, chili oil, and a oozing quail egg. Dry-aged cuts of meat are aged in house; our rib eye was 62 days. You can dress yours with bernaise, borderline, au poivre, or chimichurri. If you want to take your steak to the next level, there are black truffle crust, roasted bone marrow, Point Reyes blue cheese, and jumbo lump crab “Oscar” additions. Worthy sides include truffle whipped potatoes, roasted dash butter mushrooms that had a non-mushroom lover swooning, duck fat steak fries with lemon aioli and tarragon, and Maine lobster mac and manchego cheese. Dessert might be overdoing it, but when do we ever not overdo it? But the crème brûlée with an almond tulip was one of the best in town.
Till next time, Diplomat. It’s been real.