Hollywood Prime: Simply the Best Steakhouse in South Florida
For various reasons, Fort Lauderdale and environs does not have the culinary cachet of its friendly rival down I-95. Miami, of course, has South Beach, which is essentially an extension of Manhattan (more specifically, the Meatpacking District there). Sure, there are some good, very good and even a few great restaurants in Broward County. But often, you have to be adventuresome if you want a truly awesome dining experience.
That’s why you should consider getting into your car and venturing a few miles south, to Hollywood. There, tucked inside the lobby of the Westin Diplomat, a luxury hotel, you’ll find Hollywood Prime. This steakhouse is Old School in the way it’s appointed. The plush chairs, large tables and tons of fabric reflect the traditional gentleman’s club-type decor of most steakhouses.
This being Florida, the formality and clothing restrictions of well-known steakhouses of the Northeast aren’t here. (The restaurant recommends "business casual," but the emphasis is on the casual.) Also reflecting the area, there are several seafood entrees -- a nice change from the single snippy offering usual to such places. The waitstaff, too, is a nice change from the lovable crusty waiters in steakhouses who act as though you’re impinging on their time when you ask for service.
Optimal Wine List
I’m going to start with the best thing about a restaurant that has so many good things to offer diners: the wine list. Laura, the attractive sommelier, helped me through the 21 pages. There is an excellent selection from nearly every primary wine-growing region in the world.
She assured me that all wines, including by-the-glass, were guaranteed fresh, even when it is off season. Part of the restaurant’s strategy is to attract local residents, which appeared to be effective the night I dined there, in September, well before the tourist season.
She suggested either a California or French cabernet to go with our orders. I almost always insist on a red, no matter what the food, because of its full body and solid fruitiness. I like to call whites the Polyester of wines.
Wrong. This was one of the best wines I have ever tasted: velvety, silky almost. I originally was tempted to send it back because there was an undercurrent of acidity, but my dinner partner dissuaded me, which was a good thing: Once my palate adjusted, I realized that it was the play of flavors that took some getting used to.
The amuse-bouche was a goat cheese sauce with one-half of a cherry tomato - a tiny, melt-in-your-mouth gem. My partner ordered the mozzarella with tomatoes (pictured). You would expect fresh tomatoes in South Florida, and these fit the bill: real tomatoes, not those hybrid hothouse horrors sold in supermarkets. The mozzarella was equally fresh, also creamy and moist. It was topped with an aged balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil that perfectly complemented the two main elements.
Taking the waiter’s recommendation for what is a house specialty, I ordered stir-fried shoshito peppers. These were smallish peppers which resembled peperoncini, but a much darker green. Mildly hot, they were perfectly seared. This was a great noshy treat. I could have eaten three servings.
Heroic-Sized Meat Portions
My dinner partner is a big guy, a bodybuilder who is supersized, but even he couldn’t finish the 16 ounces of prime rib. (He had it for lunch after the gym the next day.)
I had the tuna, an equally giant portion - - and unfinishable, nearly unheard of for me. The side of hash browns with truffle oil is typical of the way Hollywood Prime has taken steakhouse staples and bumped them up to the next level of elegance.
Other main courses of note are the Long Island duck tasting, served three innovative ways; and a Kobe steak that even has its provenance provided (Greg Norman’s ranch).
Desserts to Die For
Look, I know that you’re in Florida and you’re going to be at the beach the next day. But dining at a steakhouse and not eating dessert is like sex without climax. Or maybe that should be the post-coital cigarette.
Whatever. It’s necessary. Hollywood Prime doesn’t make the temptation any easier with its offerings. Once again, this restaurant has gone its own way. There are the traditional offerings.
We opted for the warm chocolate cake (pictured), which came with a generous dollop of fresh vanilla ice cream and a chocolate crisp bridge. This was much more than enough for both of us, although we somehow managed to clean the plate. Funny how that works.
There is a variety of espressos from the best coffee-growing regions of the world, including Ethiopia, Jamaica and even Papua-New Guinea. There is also a pretty amazing selection of digestifs, most of them vintage and once again, well edited.
Although Hollywood is closer to Lauderdale, the Westin is on the southern side, bordering Hallandale, which makes it easily accessible from points south, including Downtown Miami and South Beach. It’s a short hop up I-95, and well worth the trip. There’s a lot more bang for the buck than the chicer-than-thou restaurants along Washington Avenue and Lincoln Road -- although the food is more than comparable in quality.
For more information visit the Westin’s website.