Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Many winners, one loser, at the Ikea snack bar

Ikea is the Sweden-based home furnishings giant that has been planting big blue boxes in cities around the world.

Although best known for flat beige cardboard boxes that contain the bits and pieces to furnish a home, the stores have a variety of cheap eats, and some of the food is quite good.

All around the world, people enjoy a pre-shopping (or a pre-no-shopping) bargain breakfast at Ikea, even before the rest of the store is open for business.

In the US, 99 cents will get you eggs, bacon and potatoes.

In Germany, there are organized breakfast clubs that meet daily at Ikea. A German newspaper says "Ikea is increasingly turning into a welfare center for pensioners, young moms, low-earners and the unemployed." For €1.50 Germans can get two rolls, butter, cold cuts and cheese, jam, smoked salmon, and unlimited coffee. Beer is available later in the day.

The Ikea in Israel serves Kosher food. During Passover, the food was Kosher for Passover. The food market that sold food that was not Kosher for Passover, was temporarily closed.

In Japan, Ikea serves traditional Japanese food along with Ikea standards Swedish meatballs with lingonberries and sauce.

British Ikea customers can get fish and chips.

And so it goes, in nearly 250 Ikeas around the world.

I'm not big on lingonberries, but I love the Swedish meatballs (made with reindeer meat?). I usually run away from yogurt ("baby barf"), but Ikea's low-fat concoction is absolutely delicious, and a fine substitute for more dangerous ice cream.

Their 50-cent hot dogs won't win any awards; but they are cheap, and no worse than what you'll get in a gas station or 7-11.

Some Ikeas have been offering a limited time "special" pizza pocket. It's basically a Swedish interpretation of a zeppole, and it sucks. It looks and feels like an over-cooked potato knish, with a hard doughy shell filled with a tomato and cheese paste. I took two bites, and got my two bucks back.

Fortunately Ikea has lots of good choices, including excellent salads, deserts and kids' meals; and you can buy frozen cooked meatballs to take home. There's also a Swedish Foodmarket with candy, cookies, crackers, jams, drinks, and more. (photo from Portland OR Development Commission)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good pick, Michael! The IKEA cafeterias on the East and West coasts of the US often feature what they call a "California Seafood Plate" which has a generous serving of shrimp, mussels and salad for under seven bucks. I've paid three times more for far lower quality at many fine restaurants!

Arthur G