Whimsical restaurant Imaginate opens Thursday in Royal Oak

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

Chef Omar Mitchell wants to give fine dining in downtown Royal Oak a shot in the arm with some creativity and his new venture Imaginate. 

With white tablecloths, a focus on hospitality and a menu that features familiar food presented in a unique way using props and out-of-the-box plating, Imaginate (also billed as ImaginATE) will make its debut on Thursday.

A private chef's table inside Imaginate restaurant in Royal Oak uses a projector to display lights and images on the plates.

Friends, family and socialites got a sneak peek at the vibe at Imaginate last week with a VIP preview hosted by fashion plate and Detroit News society columnist Chuck Bennett. He and chef Mitchell went all out for the party and menu preview.

Guests — which included local media personalities and political figures — were greeted with stilt-walkers, hoop twirlers and jugglers outside the restaurant, at W. Fourth and S. Lafayette, just across the street from the Royal Oak Music Theatre. Inside, champagne and sparking wine were doled out as guests got a look at the chic, white décor of the main bar area, lounge and private dining space.  

Juggler and entertainer the Amazing Flec stands outside Imaginate restaurant in Royal Oak to welcome guests to a VIP preview event on July 9, 2021.

Partygoers also got a preview of the high-end menu, which is similar to what Mitchell was presenting at his short-lived but well-received restaurant Table No. 2 on the Avenue of Fashion. (Mitchell says he's planning a revival for Table No. 2 somewhere in downtown Detroit, but details are still under wraps.) 

Signature dishes are filet mignon, porterhouse steak, bone-in lamb chops, seafood pasta and coconut-almond popcorn shrimp, which is served in a miniature popcorn machine. The herb-crusted tomahawk steak comes to the table with a giant prop fork for added flair. Entrees run $30-$60. Imaginate also serves a stacked gourmet burger with candied bacon, onion ring, fried egg and more for $29. 

In addition to a full bar, Imaginate also has a private dining table that employs the use of high-tech projection to make the plates light up or display 3D graphics. 

Chef Omar Mitchell cooking at a Detroit News Dish and Design event in 2018.

Imaginate, 401 S. Lafayette in Royal Oak, is open for dinner Tues.-Sun. Make a reservation via the OpenTable app or on the website, imaginaterestaurant.com.