La Dulce is the newest restaurant in Royal Oak. It serves authentic Spanish tapas in an ornate dining room that looks like Andy Warhol took over an aristocratic French château. Located on Royal Oak’s main shopping drag, it is obvious you are walking into something special the moment you pass Toyology, La Dulce’s next door neighbor. La Dulce’s storefront is thickly outlined in little white circles that are actually hundreds of meticulously aligned teacups.
You see the same thing as you enter the dining room and look up at the chandelier made entirely of saucers and teacups. Cubic shelves are decorated with random items found at estate sales. The square pattern repeats everywhere, from the ground to the high ceilings that are intentionally unfinished, which makes the dining experience refined, but not stuffy. It is totally a date spot. There is so much begging to be talked about.
Their soft opening was held Wednesday, August 26, with the official opening two days later. When I visited, the earliest seating was available at 4 p.m. They plan to start lunch hours mid September and incorporate Sunday brunch and Happy Hour times late September.
Their bar is standing room only. That is fine, because the seating is awesome. Instead of booths, diners eat tapas like they would in the living room, sitting on a couch surrounding a central coffee table.
The tapas menu is like the drinks menu. There is a lot of choice, with items you’ve probably never tried. The price range on both menus is vast. I felt like I was walking in the kiddie pool and then I plunged into the Mariana Trench. It goes from a $2 bowl of seasoned olives to $50 Galican baby eels.
On the drinks side, they probably have every kind of alcohol except sake. The menu heavily promotes trying tapas with sherry, because it is just a food-friendly wine. The sherry started at $5 a glass to $140 a bottle.
The staff was friendly and enthusiastic about the menu. They knew their stuff, which is impressive because there was a lot to know. I asked my server to recommend popular items and food that would make the best Instagram photo. The list included deep-fried cuttlefish bites made with squid ink, and toasted baguette slices topped with shaved truffle, asparagus and sushi-grade white tuna. For dessert, she recommended the churros that come with special dipping sauces.
The squid ink bites, or CROQUETAS DE CHOCO, was nothing to be afraid of. It doesn’t stain your teeth, the squid ink’s unique and incomparable flavor was really mellow, yet unmistakably seafood. Ultimately, it was excellent comfort food.
The fancy baguette, or MONTADITO DE ATÚN, was gorgeous on the plate. It was pricey at $10, which I broke down to $5 for a slice of toast half the size of my palm. It was deliciously fresh, perfect for something light, but I still can’t wash the taste of guilt from my mouth.
The churros were outrageously fun. The plating made me giddy with childlike excitement. They make their churros from flour imported from Spain in their churro machine. It was served with peach butter, sweetened goat milk and cajeta, caramel made from goat milk.
La Dulce is coming into its own as the next Royal Oak hot spot where the cool kids socialize. I am optimistic that they will handle future dining volume. La Dulce is expensive, but you are here to dine, to be entertained, to get an experience, and to splurge. This place gives you so many good reasons. I left knowing I would dine there again.
Find out more information on their website and Facebook. They are located on 115 S. Main St. in Royal Oak. Scroll down for more pictures.