Opening another bar is like deciding to have another child. All you remember is how much fun you had with the first one and how cute it was (at least in the beginning), forgetting all about the long, sleepless nights and dirty diapers. That's how Brian Trottier explains how he and his wife Ashley came about opening a second bar in Bend. Trottier says their first one, San Simón, downtown in Tin Pan Alley, was way more fun to open than he had anticipated, so when he got another bar concept/idea in his head he felt compelled to do it again. It probably didn't hurt that bar number one has been a raging success, extremely popular and voted Best Bar by Source Weekly readers two years in a row now (2021 & 2022).
But let's get to Bar #2, which is the focus of this particular writing. The Flamingo Room, tucked into an unassuming business plaza off Century Drive on Bend's west side, has been open since the spring of this year. It's been bustling ever since, despite its hidden location. Trottier says it's local residents that are responsible for the positive reception.
"I go in there and recognize 75% of the people in the place. People in Bend really support us, which is great because we thought it would be cool to open something more for the local crowd, something off the beaten path."
One of the first things visitors are likely to notice is the plants. They're everywhere! "I like the energy of plant stores. I like browsing in plant stores. It occurred to me, 'why couldn't we have that same environment in a bar,'" explains Trottier. So there you have it – live plants abound at the Flamingo – on shelves high and low, hanging from the ceiling, on the floor, literally in every direction you look. They're the backdrop and the forefront among rusty, mismatched metal chairs and other junkyard treasures that Trottier is proud to say he recycled from a junkyard in Powell Butte. "It's an authentic, tropical vibe without being a Jimmy Buffett show. It's more like a developing nation or a Florida bar after the apocalypse or after a horrible hurricane," says Trottier. "Vaguely Equatorial" is another descriptor used by the owners and staff.
Speaking of staff, the drinks run the gamut and are largely inspired by the staff's travels to areas around the Equator. Rum and mezcal, warm-weather spirits, as Trottier describes them, are staples in the Flamingo's cocktail repertoire. "We pride ourselves in taking spirits that people think they don't like and changing their minds about it. For example the Jazz Daq #2 turns around what you think it's going to be," Trottier boasts. It's made with rum, passion fruit, Cocchi Americano and fresh lime juice and it's already a Flamingo favorite. Trottier is proud of the curated liquor selection, explaining that they're not trying to have the biggest selection of any one thing but rather a well-rounded selection with some weirder gins, mezcals and Japanese liquors, etc.
And then there's the food at The Flamingo Room. Similar to San Simón, guests get a small clipboard with a checklist menu attached in order to choose what they want. Dips & Nosh items include things such as Watermelon & Feta salad, Onion Cashew Dip and Fig & Olive Tapenade. Nibbles are things like pickled carrots, spicy pickled asparagus, seasoned pistachios, fresh snap peas and bread with butter. Conservas are Sardines in Vinegar, Line Caught Tuna in Olive Oil, Squid in Ink, mussels and cod. There are also Masa Empanadas, a simple green salad, and handmade chocolate bars by the local Fawkes Confectionery. All snack trays come with kettle or plantain chips as well—a nicely curated assortment of bites and bits which are delicious and quite satisfying.
“Our food is definitely thought out. It’s not an apology. It’s not an accident. We wanted a more healthy feeling and even though we don’t advertise it, our food is predominantly vegan and vegetarian. It’s rare that you find a bar with those attributes but why can’t the food make you feel better?” —Brian Trottier, co-owner The Flamingo Roomtweet this
"Our food is definitely thought out. It's not an apology. It's not an accident. We wanted a more healthy feeling and even though we don't advertise it, our food is predominantly vegan and vegetarian. It's rare that you find a bar with those attributes, but why can't the food make you feel better?" beams Trottier.
While nibbling and sipping, one may also notice the music. Trottier himself makes the playlists and they're very specific, handpicked tunes. His mission is to play familiar songs mixed with unfamiliar selections. His aim is huge diversity, playing everything from African music to Japanese garage rock to Cuban music to 1960s French pop along with Prince and Dr. Dre. That mix creates a "worldly" atmosphere, according to Trottier, and he says it works because of the way he weaves in the unfamiliar with the familiar.
So if tasty bites, interesting drinks, captivating décor and amazing music mixes weren't enough, Trottier says the thing he's most proud of, the thing that gets overlooked too often, is the exceptional staff. As he puts it, "They're just the nicest, most generous and gracious people and that's really the big thing that makes it all work – the dynamite staff!"
The Flamingo Room
Open Daily 4 pm-late70 SW Century Dr., #130, Bend
On Instagram @theflamingoroombend