The Flamingo Room

Shannon Cooke

I lived in New York during a past life. 

That’s how it seems, three years and three thousand miles away, living in LA with my heart more than healed, my bedtime way before 4 AM and my tolerance much, much lower than it was in my twenties. There are a million places from my past life I’d love to write about for this magazine, one day, but for now I’m still feeling very focused on the future, on what’s coming next, not what came before. 

The Flamingo Room fits squarely in that category, as not just the locale for the first New York-based Cinnamon event, but as a tucked away, mostly-secret private event space at an adorable West Village restaurant called Claudette. I immediately loved the Flamingo Room because I probably never would’ve discovered it in my past life as a music journalist who hung out in Brooklyn DIY venues 99% of the time, who rarely ventured off the L line at all, and who turned up my nose at Manhattan’s niceties. In my thirties, niceties are what I want to spend time savoring. 

When we were looking for a place that might be a good fit for an event in New York, Casa Nela’s restaurants were an easy first choice; it’s a local restaurant group with an emphasis on family and community-building who recently hired a woman, Christine Brayton, as their head of operations. In the service industry, particularly in New York, the boys club still reigns supreme, so Brayton’s leadership role is an important decision, both for visibility and inclusion.

Walking into The Flamingo Room feels kind of like walking into the dream I had of what New York would be like, back before I ever lived there. You can’t just find it through an adjourning door off the dining room: guests have to walk past the main area, through the kitchen, and down a flight of rickety, wooden very New York stairs to get to the oasis of a secluded and chic private room. A long banquet table takes up the main area of the room, with seating for up to twenty-two, and a spillover table up closer to the stairs can seat another eight if need be. Did I mention there’s wifi? 

Unlike some other private event spaces I’ve been in, The Flaming Room comes complete with its own private bar and its own bathroom, so once guests are in place they don’t need to leave the area for two of a successful dinner’s most important aspects, libations and the loo. Obviously, the place gets its name from decor — a perfect, pink corner near the spillover table is papered with flamingos, creating a built-in Instagrammable moment. If the whole room was decked out with these ostentatious pink birds, it might end up feeling like overkill, but keeping them secluded to one area makes it a sweet aesthetic nuance instead of an overwhelming presence.

Shannon Cooke

Muted, tastefully bright wallpaper along the back wall keeps the spirit of the room high, while a chalkboard tailored for guest info and a long, roomy seating area behind the table itself give the room a multipurpose feel. The spot would’ve been just as suitable for a bachelorette dinner or a big family gathering as it was for our dinner celebrating creative New York women and introducing them to our new baby business. And though the room filled with buzz of conversations when a solid twenty people were in the room, a single voice could still carry easily without a mic when everyone was quiet.

As far as the food, exquisite, shareable salads, ample pita and hummus, and huge magnums of rosé kept the dinner moving along smoothly, culminating in a main course with vegan/vegetarian options, a fish option, and the more standard roast chicken, along with lemon tart or madeleines for dessert. Since one of Cinnamon’s founders is vegan, it was important to us that the menu lean toward a plant-based meal, something Claudette easily accommodated. The emphasis on North African flourishes within traditional French cuisine makes Claudette’s food lighter and more accessible.

Hosting an event in The Flamingo Room felt like having an underground party that the rest of the world didn’t know about. And, it felt like beginning a new chapter in a city I thought I’d closed the book on. That’s the best thing about New York though, there’s always another life lurking somewhere around the corner — or maybe it’s just hiding through the kitchen and down the stairs.

Casa Nela partnered with Cinnamon on a recent event in New York. We’re grateful for the partnership.

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