Flamingo Room is the brainchild of Natasha Sideris, owner and founder of Tashas – a thirteen strong portfolio of cafes across South Africa and Dubai. Choosing the Flamingo as a nod to their African roots is a smart move – it’s a good creature to reference considering the other choices. I heard a rumour they were considering the Penguin Pantry, the Kudu Kitchen or the Baboon Bar. Maybe. I might have made that up.
Unlike its neighbours, Il Borro, Blacktap, and Katsuya, the Flamingo Room doesn’t fit into a neat little box. Flamingo Room is a little bit different. It is unique in design, egalitarian in cuisine and exudes a distinct personality. It is somewhat special.
We arrived early for breakfast. I have been a little despondent about breakfasts recently – there is only so much avocado on toast and eggs benedict one can eat before craving something different. I was hoping Flamingo Room could offer something for me to get excited about once again.
The main entrance is a large, art deco walnut wood door that is far too beautiful not to keep closed. Pulling it open, we walked into a spacious entrance lobby and were greeted by a hostess that looked a little surprised to see us. She recovered quickly, pretending to check something on her computer and then whisked us to our table.
The Flamingo Room certainly makes a statement – it is African inspired, with zebra print fabrics and fauna combined with a little bit of Palm Springs, a touch of Art Deco and Ace Hardware’s entire stock of pink and peach paint. It is glamourous, chic and feels expensive – but not overly thematic. If Elton John did safari, it would be the Flamingo Room.
Although we were there for breakfast, I stole a glance at the rest of the menu. You never know, I might go back. There were seaside classics, buttermilk sliders, salads, starters, pasta, main courses, mains for sharing and side dishes. Jill Okkers is the chef behind the menu, and she has put together a great selection of dishes, using classic techniques and quality ingredients.
Our server was bubbly, enthusiastic and chatty and promptly brought us some freshly squeezed orange juice, and coffee.
The breakfast menu was just as elegant and glam as the rest of Flamingo Room. There were dishes such as parmesan and truffle scrambled eggs, Nutella French toast, a salmon turmeric crepe and banana and vanilla oats.
As I mentioned earlier, I was determined not to go for the usual smashed avocado or eggs benedict, so I ordered the asparagus and bacon soufflé omelette. The Serb, of course, did nothing of the sort and ordered the smashed avocado and feta open sandwich. I despair sometimes. We also ordered the ricotta hotcake as well – because it was a weekend.
A soufflé omelette is effectively a very fluffy omelette that is made by whisking the egg whites first and then folding the yolks back in and then cooking. Okker’s version was filled with a semi-sweet ricotta cream, lardons of veal bacon and slices of grilled asparagus. It was well cooked and was light, airy and creamy. They even used slivers of asparagus to create an animal pattern on the outside of the soufflé. It was like a zebra omelette.
The Serb’s avocado toast was an intense avocado puree over some multigrain bread, with chunks of feta and a mountain of shaved fennel and cucumber. If my omelette was a zebra omelette, this was the Table Mountain of toppings. It was good, although the bread became a little soggy from the puree towards the end, and might have benefitted from being grilled slightly.
Our ricotta hotcake was the star of the show for us. A beautiful, skillet-cooked pancake, with a gorgeous ricotta cream and sticky, intense honeycomb bits, topped with handfuls of fresh berries and ripe figs. It was lively, decadent and generous. It was also demolished within seconds. Our ever-helpful server wanted to fetch us side plates, but I informed her that she wouldn’t get back in time. No one can move that fast.
Natasha Sideris and Jill Okkers have created something quite special at the Flamingo Room. The Turtle Lagoon at Al Naseem hotel is becoming a powerhouse of F&B, and the Flamingo Room certainly holds its own against the elegance of Il Borro, the monster shakes of Black Tap and the big name of Chef Katsuya.
It’s not easy to execute such quality on your first weekend open, and I am happy to say that, despite the punchy bill at the end, this was one of the best breakfasts I’ve had all year.