Saturday, July 07, 2007

Restaurant Review - IKEA Restaurant, 1000 IKEA Drive, Elizabeth, NJ

IKEA in New JerseyTo finish up my reviews from my recent New Jersey trip, I decided to get a sneak peek at an internationally known restaurant that is coming here to Orlando this Fall. Yes, of course I'm talking about IKEA. Okay, I know IKEA is known the world over as a furniture store, but I was eager to try their Swedish food (I am Restaurant Mom after all).

Every IKEA has the same basic floor plan with a "restaurant" (really a cafeteria) and Swedish Food Market so you can bring your favorite goodies home (oh yeah, and they have furniture and stuff, too). I don't know if the restaurant prices at the Orlando store will be the same as the NJ store, but I can't imagine they will be that different. And I have to tell you that the IKEA cafeterIKEA - Kids Mac-n-cheese on kids trayia has the best kids' meal deal I have ever seen - Mac-n-Cheese and a drink for 99 cents. The kid's drink alone is 79 cents so this is a huge bargain. I figure it is a loss leader to lure folks in, just like their 99 cent breakfast special (I'll have to wait until the Orlando IKEA opens to try that). There other items on the kids menu are the Kid's Meatball Plate with five Swedish meatballs, potatoes, and lingonberries; and a PB&J that comes with a small fruit cup and a drink - both of these go for $1.99 - still a huge bargain. Oh, and milk and chocolate milk can be chosen as the kids' drink. What is also very cute are kid-sized trays so kids can carry their own food through the line.

The adult meals are just as reasonable. IKEA's specialty, of course, are the Swedish meatballs. These are offered in 10, 15, or 20 meatball portions, ranging from $4.29 to $5.99. Grandpa decided to get the 20 Meatball Plate so that he, Grandma, and my brother could share. The IKEA Meatball PlatePlate also comes with potatoes and lingonberries. BB decided to get the PB&J which actually turned out to be a package of Uncrustables - I guess it is quick for IKEA but it would have beeIKEA Kids PB&Jn nice to have a freshly made sandwich. It came with a very small fruit cup that looked like canned fruit cocktail. Oh well, what do you want for $1.99? I got the Gravad Lox Plate ($4.99) which is similar to the lox you'll find at a bagel place, only a bit milder and smoother in flavor and texture. I also picked up a Daim cake which is an almoIKEA Lingonberry Sodand cake with what appears to be a coating of chocolate, almonds and toffee bits. It came with a Daim candy on the side, which is a Swedish version of a chocolate toffee candy (think Heath or Skor bar). Heading to the check-out lane, Grandpa grabbed a Lingonberry bottled soda. Everyone else went with a fountain beverage ($1.25) and we picked up our glasses and placed them on our trays. One un-kid-friendly thing is that they don't have kids' cups, plastic or otherwise (at least the NJ store didn't when we were there). So the kids have to drink out of small glasses. Also, I couldn't find a straw anywhere in the restaurant - even for the adults! They did sell straws inside the store on the first floor so maybe they were trying to increase sales (lol)?

After placing our trays down at the table, I went up to get drinks. I found lingonberry juice available at the fountain and decided to try it. I'm usually not a big fruit juice drinker but this was a really light juice, somewhere between a berry and grape taste. I got a regular cola for BB. Grandpa was a little peeved that he had bought the Lingonberry soda in a bottle because he didn't realize the IKEA Gravad Lox - Yum!juice was available at the soda fountain. BB blissfully ate his Uncrustable and fruit cup so I guess the pre-packaged food didn't bother him. My Gravad Lox was great - it was melt-in-your-mouth slightly salty flavor with a hint of fish taste - and the dill mustard that went with it was wonderful as well. I also stole one meatball from the Meatball Plate. By itself, it was very good - tender and tasty. Adding the cream sauce made it even better and then adding the lingonberry sauce to that was great - the tangy fruit really complementing the meat and cream sauceIKEA Daim cake. Our one gripe was the temperature of everything on the meatball plate - it was all lukewarm - it would have been better hotter. My Daim cake for dessert was extremely sweet and rich. The cake itself was in very thin layers and was very light but the chocolate candy topping really put it over the top. At one point I picked off the topping and ate the rest of the cake underneath. Of course, that didn't stop me from eating the Daim candy that came with it - yummy chocolate toffee goodness, but in a small, palatable size.

Once you are done at the IKEA restaurant, you bus your own tables, bringing the trays up to a cart with your dirty plates on it. Signs all around say it is to keep the prices down - and really, it is nothing more than you would do at a fast food restaurant but now you are putting away real plates and utensils. I look forward to checking out the Orlando IKEA store when it rolls into town and trying some of the other menu items - and getting some more Gravad Lox!

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