Monday, October 12, 2009

The IKEA Cafe

It's a furniture store. It's a home accessories store. It's a grocery store (for those hard-to-find Swedish items no kitchen is complete without). And it's a restaurant!

Since the IKEA in Canton opened in the summer of 2006, metro Detroiters from all corners have been making the pilgrimmage for some finely-crafted, inexpensive Swiss-engineered contemporary furniture and accessories (which includes everything from carpet to drapes to picture frames to entertainment centers to complete bedroom sets to kitchen ranges and bathroom sinks). I've known many (self included) who have decorated their homes almost entirely in IKEA because it's cheap and stylish and anyone can make their Home by IKEA®, as evidenced by the sample domiciles in which the fine folks at IKEA show you just how much you can do with 377 sq. ft. of living space, etc.

And let's not forget, whole soap operas have also been filmed here (unbeknownst to the employees).

Ah, IKEA, how do we love thee? Let me count the days! A trip to IKEA is a journey that lasts from dawn 'til dusk (or 10AM-10PM, was a figure of speech) wandering amongst the many realms of decorative and functional possibilities--so much so that we may even need to take a break for some nourishment. Never fear, IKEA has that covered too!

Enter the IKEA Restaurant & Cafe, a cafeteria-style eatery with an abundance of options which include fresh soups, desserts, and favorites such as Swedish Meatballs in a cream sauce with potatoes and lingonberry jam for only $4.99 ($2.49 on Tuesdays after 4:00PM through December 29!). Much like everything else in IKEA, the food is dirt cheap; and much like everything else in IKEA, surprisingly good despite the low price.

(Also be sure to clean up after yourself; this is part of the reason why you're paying such low prices for the food, as the signs located all over the dining area so gently remind you.)

Their menu items change regularly but there are always the standards, such as those Swedish Meatballs (which you can also purchase by the bag in the grocery store downstairs), as well as Penne Pasta in Marinara Sauce for only $1.99 and a daily $0.99 breakfast which includes scrambled eggs, 2 strips of bacon, and potatoes. Wednesday is rib night at IKEA; enjoy a half rack of baby back ribs with french fries and corn bread for only $7.99 every Wednesday from 4:00PM-close.

For my dinner, I chose a Buffalo Chicken Wrap ($3.99), a Princess Torte ($1.29), a cup of coffee ($0.99) and a Milk Chocolate Bar for later ($0.99). For $7.64, I had a full meal with treats for later.

Note: The coffee is not available in to-go cups upstairs, but if you get there late enough you can go to the downstairs cafe (where they also sell ice cream) and tell them that the upstairs restaurant had already dumped their coffee and that Jenny sent you down there, and the girls will smile knowingly and hand you a fresh to-go cup which you can then fill and be on your merry way. Thanks for the tip, Jenny!

And I'll say, for seven smackers, this was a tasty meal. The Buffalo Chicken Wrap was served cold and was stuffed with grilled chicken rolled in a mild buffalo sauce, lettuce, and lots of shredded cheddar cheese. Bleu cheese dressing was served on the side, and thank God for that because as much as I love cheese I can't stand bleu cheese dressing (or really any dressing that is little more than liquified mayonnaise with added flavor). The verdict? 2 mmmm's up!

Next I had the Princess Torte, which I'm pretty sure I only picked up because it was a really pretty green color that matches my apartment. Regardless, this pastry made with sponge cake, raspberry jam, Bavarian creme, and covered in Marzipan was a tasty little treat. I usually shy away from Marzipan because it's just so damned sugary, but this was light enough to enjoy. I was a tad disappointed to find the "Bavarian creme" was the fluffy kind and not the creamy custardy kind...which I should have known by the word "creme" but I tend to see the word "Bavarian" and stop paying attention after that. This confection was enjoyable, but with custard instead of creme it would have been soooooooo much better.

The "Choklad Ljus" milk chocolate bar I saved for later, and have since enjoyed several S'ores (that would be a s'more without the marshmallow) at home. The chocolate is creamy and not at all waxy like one might expect with a "cheap" chocolate. This may even have a strong enough structure to be melted and used in fondue...though I might also just be making that up. Take from it what you will.

Downstairs in the grocery store portion you can find cakes, cookies, sparkling fruit-flavored water, Swedish meatballs, lingonberry jam, more chocolate, dried potatoes (at least I think that's what they were judging from the picture), coffee, mini cinammon rolls, chocolate and hazelnut syrups...apparently the Swedes like their sweets, anyway.

While there I also eyeballed a whole new bedroom set for me (I've had the same set since I was lacquer isn't really "in" anymore, is it?) as well as kitchen solutions and accessories that for some reason I feel compelled to own despite the fact that I don't cook. Oh well, when it's this cheap, hell...why not buy two?

So next time you make the trek out to IKEA for some lightbulbs, power strips, a decorative vase, a shiny new showerhead, new countertops and kitchen cabinets (install yourself, DIY-ers!), a duvet cover, ceiling fans, framed art, glassware, storage boxes that require assembly, and frozen meatballs, make sure you also go there hungry because the savings don't stop 'til they hit your stomach!