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."
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:
- Where: 401 S. Lafayette Ave. at Fourth Street, Royal Oak (map)
- Website: imaginaterestaurant.com
- Phone: (248) 633-8899
- Email: email@example.com
- Reservations: Open Table or restauarant site
Photos from restaurant (and a guest):