Food & Drink

Gallery: At new Royal Oak restaurant, 'Insta-worthy' dishes come with props

July 27, 2021, 6:24 AM by  Alan Stamm

The linen-draped dining room and adjacent lounge seat 130 guests. (Photos: ImaginATE)

Food theater is staged at downtown Royal Oak's newest restaurant, ImaginATE, which serves fancy meals with wacky presentations.

Tomahawk steak comes with a giant fork that looks more like a fist-grip weapon than fine dining cutlery. Popcorn shrimp is served in a small theater-style popcorn maker. A mini-boat accompanies fish. The whimsical props fit a spot that touts "a stunning experience that will amaze you ... [with] insta-worthy social media culinary delights and craft beverages served in a magical way." 

The new spot is at Fourth Street and South Lafayette Avenue, across from the Royal Oak Theatre. (Photo: Facebook/Crystal Gunn)

It's tailored for Extremely Online foodies. "We had the best time at ImaginATE. It really is an experience," Eulala Crapps posts Saturday. "They came up with chicken nuggets in a bird cage on the fly to make my baby feel so special. Then the check came out in a jack-in-the-box!"

After previews over the past two weeks, the 130-seat restaurant opened last weekend at South Lafayette Avenue and Fourth Street, opposite the Royal Oak Theater in a spot that was Bistro 82 until early 2020.

The chef is Omar Mitchell, previously of Table No. 2 on Livernois Avenue in Detroit. He graduated from Finney High in Detroit and studied culinary arts at the district's Golightly Career Center and Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I.

His dinner menu has steaks, filet mignon, salmon, bronzini (European bass), grouper, walleye, duck, cornish hen, lamb chops, seafood pasta, grilled avocado -- all staged fancifully and priced at $29 to $60. (See 12 entree photos below.)

"Mitchell is going for the 'wow' factor," Monica Williams posts at Eater Detroit. Melody Baetens of The Detroit News admires "out-of-the-box plating" and "a private dining table that employs the use of high-tech projection to make the plates light up or display 3D graphics."

Plan a visit:

Photos from restaurant (and a guest):

Oysters on the half-shell, lightly fried in panko crust and served with mignonette sauce ($19 for six).

Southern-fried Cornish hen is served with smashed potatoes and velouté sauce ($29).

Chargrilled salmon is topped with asparagus and a crisp chicken skin ring. Served atop black rice laced with truffle balsamic glaze ($33).

Double bone lamb chops are accompanied by charred onions, mint foam crème, crispy leek root flower and asparagus ($44).

Pan-fried bronzini topped with ratatouille ($39).

Coconut-almond popcorn shrimp appetizer comes in an old-school popcorn machine ($17).

Spice-rubbed ribeye steak (22-ounce) with a skewer of poblano-stuffed peppers ($55).

Filet mignon with potato puffs and grilled vegetables ($46/8 ounces, $49.00/12 ounces, $52/16 ounces).

Maryland-style crab cake appetizer drizzled with a remoulade sauce ($18).

Grilled Caesar salad ($13). (Photo: Wanji King)

Fourteen-ounce herb-crusted tomahawk steak ($44).

Burger and fries with candied bacon, onion ring, fried egg, lettuce, tomato, pickles, barbecue sauce and garlic aioli ($29).


Leave a Comment:

Photo Of The Day