Chef Nicolay Adinaguev sometimes feels as if he’s won the lottery. The culinary lottery, that is. That’s no surprise given that Adinaguev is executive chef at the great Diplomat Prime steakhouse at the Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, Fla.
Technically, Diplomat Prime was the sole surviving restaurant when the legendary resort began its multi-million renovation some two years ago. But that doesn’t mean Diplomat Prime went unscathed. As part of the renovation, Diplomat Prime received a total facelift, taking it from what Genera Manager General Manager Michael Savitt called an “old man’’ crusty look to sleek, new interior design without giving away the classic steakhouse ambience.
In addition, Diplomat Prime brought in Adinaguev from the highly-regarded Steak 954 in Fort Lauderdale to transform the former’s food and beverage concepts. In less than two years, Adinaguev has elevated Diplomat Prime from an above-average steak and seafood restaurants to one of the top restaurants in South Florida.
“This kitchen ran for a very long time without me, and they were doing a great job already. What I did do is bring a fresh take on a modern steakhouse, and of course added some love,’’ Adinaguev said.
Diplomat Prime is one of the Diplomat Beach Resort’s three “signature’’ restaurants – the others being Chef Geoffrey Zakarian’s Point Royal and Chef Michael Schulson’s Monkitail. All told, the renovated Diplomat Beach Resort has 10 food and beverage outlets, but it’s the only South Florida resort to boast three signature eateries.
“I love the intimate dining room and the amazing support team. We are the jewel of The Diplomat Beach Resort,’’ Adinaguev said of Diplomat Prime. “I can bring in any ingredient because cost isn’t a big deterent. For a chef that’s a very enticing factor. I also love the dry age program, which my Sous Chef Alejandro Sanchez had helped build with multiple chefs. I have been wanting to master dry aging at this level, so that’s a bonus, as well.’’
Adinaguev’s cooking style is as diverse as his heritage. His father was born in the Caucasus Mountains; Adinaguev’s mother was first generation Peruvian from Romanian parents.
“I’m 100 percent Jewish, which means that I’m nether Peruvian or Russian,’’ Adinaguev said. “But I was born in Peru, so I do have certain way about my cooking that reflects it.
“That land has so much to give that it would be impossible for a chef to not be inspired there. I like to showcase all the foods I’ve experienced.’’
Those dishes include Octopus with edamame hummus, black olive, french feta and daikon radish. I know, octopus has become a staple of many menus these days, but Adinaguev’s octopus – clean and with a wealth of flavors – belongs at the top of any list.
“It’s one of the dishes I’m most proud to serve,’’ he said.
Then there are the steaks – Prime and Wagyu. There’s no way to wrong wth any of them, but from a special treat, go with the Wagyu Filet Mignon with sides of roasted cauliflower and tater tots. The 18-ounce Ribeye with a side of hand-cut Duck Fat Steak Fries is heaven on a plate.
Looking for a seafood entrée? some seafood? The Maine Diver Scallops are outstanding and the Butter Poached Lobster is a “must have’’ for lobster fans.
What will future menus look like at Diplomat Prime?
“That ‘s a tough question,’’ . Adinaguev said. ”I’d like to keep the menu changing as seasonal as possible and bring in more globally sustainable foods. Possibly start a wagyu-aged program as well, and maybe do some whiskey treatments in the dry age room with the amazing beef we purchase.’’
Now that’s a future worth waiting to experience.