Bilby Blue and I have wonderful memories of backpacking through Scandinavia. Despite its reputation of being expensive for both food and accommodation, we found that the secret was to stay in youth hostels, and, especially in Sweden, to eat at department store cafeterias. Just about every Swedish department store had a cafeteria which catered for everyday Swedish families with everyday Swedish food – for a reasonable price and with generous serves. We developed quite a fondness for hearty serves of Swedish meatballs, smothered in thick gravy and accompanied by an over-abundance of boiled potatoes.
So it not unexpected that Swedish furniture giant IKEA has cafeterias in its stores (although it insists on calling them ‘restaurants’). A well organised system for customers to file past the serveries and cash registers includes specially designed trollies that snugly hold three serving trays, making it easy for families to wrangle multiple meals. The dining area is huge, but the institutional atmosphere is softened just a little by offering different styles of seating – from standard cafeteria-style tables and chairs to couches arranged around coffee tables, with a sprinkling of child-friendly play areas.
We were returning an errant Christmas purchase and decided to check out IKEA’s Swedish meatballs – are they as good as those we remembered?
I chose the Swedish meatballs ($7.99 for a serve of 10) with gravy and boiled potatoes (see first pic). A splodge of lingonberry sauce was included. The meatballs survived the bain marie treatment quite well. They were tasty and juicy, although not as good as back in Sweden; with the potatoes, the thick gravy and the lingonberry sauce the dish sparked fond memories.
For drinks, Ikea is promoting its Nordic Fruit water ($1.99 with unlimited refills) as a way to reduce sugar intake. Available flavours are labelled as lemon, pear, lingonberry and raspberry. It is lightly carbonated but undistinguished, the flavours mildly sweetish but otherwise unidentifiable. Bilby’s refill of her lemon proved to be just carbonated water with no flavouring at all – presumably the machine had run dry of flavour syrup.
Di Bella Coffee Roasting Warehouse. Rather than a hearty meatball in a thick, spicy tomato sauce, expect a finely textured and flavoured meatball in a cream-based gravy.
OverallIf you are already at IKEA and the kids are hungry, this is an inexpensive family option – when we visited there was a special offer of one kid’s meal free with each adult meal. Coffee and tea also allow unlimited refills.
The experience may provide only a pale imitation of actually being in Sweden, but it’s good enough to bring back some fond memories.
Also have a look at Bureaucrat's review back in October 2011.
Find it atIKEA Springvale
Springvale Homemaker Centre
917 Princes Highway
Springvale VIC 3171
Phone 8523 2154