Friday, April 13, 2012
I have a confession to make - I've always wondered if those ballyhooed meatballs in the restaurant at the behemoth IKEA furniture stores around here are any good. I know my in-laws have sampled them and enjoyed them, but they remained a fixture on my foodie to-do list for quite some time (even though IKEA has been in Chicagoland for more than 10 years, I can count the number of times I've been there on the fingers of one hand - I'm not much of a shopper, and frankly, all those goofy Swedish names they use for the merchandise frighten me). Anyway, with Mrs. Hackknife and the progeny away on a daylong outlet mall excursion not so long ago, I decided to satisfy my meatball curiosity and drove up to the nearest IKEA (in Romeoville, about 30 minutes away) for lunch. The restaurant is a fairly nice and tranquil place (at least it is at 12:30 on a Monday afternoon) on the second level with large windows overlooking the parking lot. Everything is served cafeteria-style; that is, you walk along the food line with your tray and grab items (or order entrees with a cook) at each station. I was expecting menu offerings that slanted more towards Swedish cuisine; sadly, most everything was standard American fare (chicken wrap, anyone?) except for the meatballs, which were served 15 to a plate with gravy, mashed potatoes, and a dollop of lingonberry sauce on the side (see photo above).
Once I sat down to nosh, my initial impressions were that the meatballs and gravy were not all that different from the Lean Cuisine frozen meatball and egg noodle dinners I used to occasionally nuke for lunch at the office (in other words, not as tasty as I'd hoped). As I got further into the plate, I discovered that mixing the meatballs/gravy with the potatoes and the lingonberries improved the experience somewhat. Still, unless I had future plans to buy an Emmie Parla (cushion cover) or a Mammut (children's dresser), I wouldn't be making any more half-hour trips to IKEA just for the meatballs. There is a small market on the way out of the building selling imported Scandinavian food products, some of which got my attention (for example, jars of herring in sour cream and tubes of fish roe paste); alas, I had no way to keep such delicacies refrigerated while I was out running errands, so I had to pass until next time...