Monday, 14 June 2010

Ikea restaurant - cute but carnivorous

I have recently finished reading the second novel in Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy, The Girl Who Played with Fire. It is set in Stockholm, a city of which I know nothing. The streets, the police force, the newspapers are all foreign to me but when our protagonist, Lisbeth Sallander outfits her new apartment with furniture from Ikea, it suddenly seems all too familiar.

Every now and again, we venture into the overwhelming world of Ikea with its cheap flat pack furniture that is like lego for adults. Lately, though, I have been more taken with the kiddie section, especially this wonderful toy kitchen that I would have loved as a kid.

So a few months back we decided to have lunch at the cafe before making our purchases. (NB on the website it is called a restaurant but it is more a cafeteria.) It was convenient, it was cute, it was cheap but it was not really geared towards anyone who wasn't a carnivore. The queue was very slow to snake past the displays of food but there wasn't much on offer for me. E had the famous Swedish meatballs and enjoyed them. I have heard varying feedback on them and would welcome a veg version but am not sure that would ever happen. It isn't that sort of world.

The sign is friendly enough but it is a place where you must fit the mould, rather than them catering to anyone who is outside their idea of 'normal'. That is how they manage to be so cheap but it makes for a very limited welcome. Service is minimal too.

I ordered a pasta with tomato sauce and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and a side salad. The tomato sauce was bland, the cheese was just salty sawdust and the salad was a cheap forest of green leaves with a couple of pieces of tomato and cucumber in it. Very unsatisfying. Sylvia was not impressed, despite sitting in a highchair just like her one at home.

One of the unfortunate side effects of being vegetarian is an excitement at dessert in lieu of any decent main course. We ordered a slice of daim slice and a yoghurt with ligonberries. I had thought Sylvia might try the yoghurt but none of us were too enthused with it. E and I, on the other hand, loved the cake - with its layers of creamy, crispy, chocolatey yumminess.

I was curious enough to buy a packet of the Daim lollies that I assume the slice was imitating. They were very crunchy, being a hard almond toffee covered with chocolate. Not something I would buy again. I could be tempted by the slice if ever I set foot in the Ikea cafe again.

However, I don't have any desire to go there again. Though it is convenient, I can find more nutritious and delicious food in the downstairs shopping centre at the Richmond store that we visit. What I do love about the cafe is some of the decor. The floral table coverings, the highchairs, the view of St Pat's Cathedral, and most of all, one of the best kids play areas. Well, if Ikea can't get this right, who can! Just a shame about the vegetarian food!

Ikea Restaurant
Victoria Gardens Shopping Centre
Cnr. Victoria St & Burnley St
Richmond VIC 3121
Phone: (03) 8416 5000


  1. I actually had the Ikea $2.50 vegetarian breakfast just over a week ago. Definitely much better than lunch. I was pretty satisfied with scrambled eggs, fried tomato, hash brown and baked beans. Especially for $2.50. :D

  2. I love visiting ikea, all the lovely fabrics and kitchenware. I feel like a kid in a sweetie shop. Graham doesn't feel quite the same way and drags himself around the shop with a sullen air and an eye to all I am loading in the trolley. We don't bother with the cafe, but we did try a veggie hotdog on the way out last time. It wasn't fabulous, but a great novelty for us. Oh and I can't leave without stocking up on swedish fish (jelly sweets - veggie friendly) which I am addicted to. Jelly sweeties are my only regret in being veggie. I love them more than chocolate, but they usually contain gelatin.

  3. I am an ikea lover! But I agree that the vegetarian food selection is poor. I just happened to have eaten there this week and I ordered the vegetarian quiche with salad. It was all a bit meh and tasteless. Also, on two past occasions my salad has included bugs! Eeep. Daim cake though = win.

  4. I confess, I've never been to Ikea. However, my daughter is a frequent visitor and she hasn't anything good to say about the cafeteria. My grandson has many food allergies and the one and only time she tried to purchase something vegetarian for him, they made such a production out of it. She got angry and he embarrassed.

    She did send me a jar of the lingonberry that I haven't tried yet. And, the kids do enjoy the Swedish fish:)

    It's a shame the environment seems to be conducive to kids and yet, the food, not.

    Thanks for sharing, Johanna. I really do enjoy my visits here:)

  5. How good is the Millenium trilogy? I just finished the last one am on of the first now (long story, saw the first movie and Book Depository was late in delivering the first book so I went on to read the other two). The third book is great too and wraps things up nicely.

  6. I'm not quite vegetarian, but I've recently become far more interested in desserts than main courses whenever I go out :D Whoops!

    My new housemate is shocked that I've never been to IKEA. Somehow, I don't really feel like I'm missing out...?

    Oooh, last thing, would you recommend that series to read? I've heard good things but it's not the kind of story I usually opt for.

  7. hi johanna! next pot luck is going to be at my house... 11th july sunday arvo... "winter warmers" email me!

  8. kind of ironic about the veg options, considering that Stockholm is one of Europes great veg*n cities...but as far as the blandness of the food goes, i guess what can we expect for such ridiculous prices?

  9. I love going to the shop in Ikea - I always come away with yet more jam, and last time, some organic wholewheat pasta shaped like reindeer - I defy anyone to resist! It even tasted nice.

  10. Thanks Amie - that sounds much better than my pasta - I love baked beans - and half the price

    Thanks Jacqueline - I can't go there without checking out the kitchenware even though I try not to buy - but I can see why the veggie hotdogs and jelly fish come home with you - will look out for them

    Thanks Vegiebug - I guess your moniker is not referring to ikea cafe bugs - sounds disturbing - take the daim cake over them every time :-)

    Thanks Louise - agree it is a shame the food doesn't live up to the ambience - a triumph of style over substance - you are not missing much in not visiting ikea

    Thanks Lorraine - can't wait to read the third novel - they are very very readable and satisfyingly complex - though disturbing story lines

    Thanks Hannah - being vegetarian gives me a good excuse to love desserts :-) but who needs an excuse! Now you are moving to the smurf kitchen you might start feeling the need for ikea (be afraid!) And yes I would recommend the millennium trilogy despite the disturbing conclusions (and Lorraine is backing me up on this)

    Thanks Carla - sounds good - will email

    Thanks Louise - I didn't know that Stockholm is a great vegan city - wish I could get there and find out for myself but I can't say ikea gives any clues (though you are right about the prices)

    Thanks Lysy - I think would be better off buying food like jam and pasta than eating in

  11. Hmm - I like the look of the Daim slice, but will give the rest a miss.

  12. Smiling and saying to myself, one man's meat is another's I have quaffed a few Daim bars this week. But I also love the cake. Very much!

  13. I've never found Ikea food to be good but it is incredibly cheap. And I do love the frozen yogurt!


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