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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

A Taste of Sweden, IKEA Restaurant and Sweden Shop, Rhodes

Care for a meatball?

Has anyone ever managed to leave IKEA a) in under an hour, and b) without buying anything?

Huh, me neither.

The great big escalator at the entrance takes you up to IKEA Land, straight into the oh-so-organised, 'wouldn't this look great, honey?' modern-looking demonstration rooms. Oh the efficient functionality. Oh the cleanness of design. Oh the quirky cheerfulness of 1970s retro designs.

Cooking and eating section

Unsurprisingly, it's the cooking and eating section that I linger in the most.

It seems appropriate then, that I'm here for a food blogger meet-up, organised by David from IKEA and author behind the This is Home website.

A Taste of Sweden food blogger meetup

Ikea restaurant

Our meetup takes place in a cordoned-off area of the IKEA restaurant, right next to the children's play area. In attendance are A Table for Two, Chocolatesuze, Citrus & Candy, Eat Show & Tell, Here Comes the Food, I Am Obsessed With Food and The Heart of Food.

We're here for a look at some of IKEA's range of kitchenware and a sampling of their Swedish food range and restaurant meals.

Kids' play area

Lingonberry squash
Available as a lingonberry syrup

As we sip on glasses of lingonberry squash, elderflower squash and pear cider, we listen to a brief talk on the Swedish people's affection for fish as well as a run-through of the various frying pans available. We're particularly awestruck by the 24cm frying pan that retails for $4.50 (yes, $4.50!) and it gets a special nod of approval as it's passed around.

Cider Koppaberg $2.50/500ml
Non-alcoholic pear cider

Already a fan of the IKEA lingonberry preserve (it's great with turkey at Christmas), the lingonberry squash tastes like a mixture of cranberry juice with the sweetness of strawberries. I purchase a bottle of the lingonberry syrup later that evening, and so far it's been delicious with ice and mineral water. I'm also envisaging a good match with vodka, and can see myself using it to cook with pork or in baking.

Elderflower squash provides elegant refreshment, and the pear cider is also a winner, bubbly and sweet with an almost lychee-like flavour of pear.

Entree platter
[Clockwise from bottom left]: Swedish red caviar on Tunnbröd with sour cream;
Leksands knäckebröd triangle with boiled egg and Kaller smoked roe;
Hällakaka rounds with boiled egg and mustard pickled herring;
Gravlax salmon on bread with sweet mustard and dill;
Sandwich fingers with shrimp, boiled egg, mayonnaise,
lettuce leaves and cucumber

The entree platter of mixed Swedish appetisers garners much excitement. The IKEA staff seem bemused by our photos, but I think even they understimated exactly how many photos and angles eight food bloggers need!

Pickled herrings
[Clockwise from bottom ]: Dillsill herring in dill marinade;
Inlagd sill herring in marinade with onion and carrots;
Senapssill herring in mustard sauce; and Hällakaka rounds

Dillsill herring in dill marinade;
Inlagd sill herring in marinade with onion and carrots; and
Senapssill herring in mustard sauce;

Food bloggers attack

Gravlax salmon on bread with sweet mustard and dill;
Swedish red caviar on Tunnbröd scroll with sour cream; and
Leksands Knäckebröd triangle with boiled egg and Kaller smoked roe

Gravlax salmon with sweet mustard and dill is soft and yielding, and I'm surprised by the scroll of Tunnbröd which reminds me of mountain bread, the filling of Swedish red caviar pairing well with the richness of sour cream.

The gigantic pizza-like wedge of Knäckebröd (how can you say that without smiling?!) is the most fun to eat, and I find myself quite liking the toothpaste squiggle of Kaller smoked roe. The pale pink paste has a sweet and salty roe flavour, and it's another product I'm moved to purchasing later that evening (picture of the blue Kaller smoked roe further on in this post).

Hällakaka round with boiled egg and mustard pickled herring;
Gravlax salmon on bread with sweet mustard and dill;
Swedish red caviar roll with sour cream; and
Sandwich finger with shrimp, boiled egg, mayonnaise,
lettuce leaves and cucumber

We order our main meals directly from the servery in the IKEA restaurant. There's a huge run on the meatballs but between us we manage to get most of the dishes on offer covered.

Chicken breast schnitzel with chips $3.95

Salmon pytti panna with basil and mustard sauce $3.95

I find it hard to fathom that a light dinner can be had for $3.95 but then this is the home of the $1 hot dog. The chicken schnitzel is a decent size, a deep golden hue and served with a huge pile of chips and a lake of gravy.

The salmon pytti panna is a Scandinavian version of the British bubble and squeak, explains Petra, a Swedish national. Traditionally made with leftover bits of vegetables and fish, it's a homestyle comfort food dish, although I find the faint taste of vinegar a little strange to get used to.

Swedish meatballs with chips $7.50 medium

But it's the meatballs that win the popularity contest, an iconic part of the Ikea Restaurant experience. Pleasingly rustic in their uneven size and shape, the meatballs have a pan-fried edge that gives way to a ridiculously soft and juicy interior. Both the graddsas cream sauce and lingonberry preserve add extra flavour to the meatballs and your carbohydrate of choice: the chips or the mashedp potato.

Swedish meatballs with mashed potato $6.95 small

Garden salad $2.00

A small bowl of salad provides some much needed vitamins.

Self-serve dessert display

Punch roll (front) and Delicato ball $1.50 each

Our dessert platter of Punch rolls and Delicato balls

Our dessert platter is a good time to try treats I've never sampled before. The Punch roll, Petra explains, is also known as a dammsugare or vacuum cleaner, due to its visual resemblance to an old-fashioned vacuum cleaner head. The log of chocolate cake has a faint taste of liquer, and is rolled in a layer of lime green marzipan with both ends dipped in chocolate.

The Delicato ball looks like a chocolate snowball and tastes like a mixture of chocolate, Copha and coconut.

Princess cake $3.95

It's the Princess cake that has Chocolatesuze excited - it's one of her favourites. It's a simple but striking dessert, a disc of sponge spread thinly with raspberry jam, topped with a thick layer of cream and covered with a thin dome of green marzipan. The history behind its green colour is not really known, although this post makes an admirable attempt to uncover the mystery.

Chocolatesuze: armed Princess and food blogger poster girl

We depart the restaurant laden down with goodie bags and meatball- and herring-lined stomachs. There's still time to get to the Sweden shop before it closes and I need a tube of that Kalles Kaviar, Daim bars and more...

Ikea carry bags

Kalles Kaviar $3.95/190g
Creamed smoked roe spread

The boy pictured is the son of the CEO at the time when Kalles Kaviar first commenced production in 1954, its packaging unchanged since its initial launch.

Svenskt Tunnbrod $3.25/225g
Soft arctic thinbread made from wheat, rye and barley meal

Dubbla Chokladflarn $9.95/600g
Double chocolate crisps biscuits made with oats

Lingonsaft lingonberry syrup $4.95/500ml

Nypon soppa $3.95/1L
Ready-made rosehip soup

Organic pasta in the shape of elks

Ragbrod finax $5.95/750g
Swedish rye bread kit – just add water

Kottbullar Swedish meatballs $9.95/1kg

Daim chocolate $7.95/400g
Butter almond brittle

Almondy Daim $8.95/400g
Almond tart with Daim butter almond brittle

View Larger Map
IKEA Restaurant on Urbanspoon

IKEA Homebush Bay Drive
Rhodes Shopping Centre,
1 Oulton Avenue, Rhodes, Sydney
Enter off Homebush Bay Drive
Tel: +61 (02) 8002 0400

IKEA store opening hours:
Monday to Friday 10am - 7pm (till 9pm on Thursdays)
Saturday and Sunday 9am - 7pm

IKEA restaurant opening hours:
Monday to Friday 9.30am - 6pm (till 8pm on Thursdays)
Saturday and Sunday 8.30am - 6pm

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
IKEA Restaurant and Sweden Shop (Apr06)

Scandinavian - The Gourmet Viking, Newtown

Homebush -- Janani (Oct05), and (Jul05) (Sri Lankan)
Rhodes -- Rhodes Phoenix (Chinese)
Strathfield -- Bagan (Burmese)
Strathfield -- Crystal Seafood (Chinese)
Strathfield North -- Bar Biscotti (Cafe / Breakfast)
Strathfield North -- Outback Steakhouse (American)
25 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 5/06/2009 01:23:00 am


  • At 5/06/2009 1:45 am, Anonymous Mary Sue said…

    Has anyone ever managed to leave IKIEA a) in under an hour, and b) without buying anything?Yes, but I was picking up a paycheck. :D

  • At 5/06/2009 2:35 am, Blogger Karen | Citrus and Candy said…

    It definitely was an interesting night! I could do with a plate of meatballs and lingonberry jam right now!

  • At 5/06/2009 6:26 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Looks like a great day out! Retail AND food! Growing up in Perth, we're used to the sight of the radioactive green Princess cake from Miss Maude's - a local institution. Never gave it much thought, until now. Maybe Adriano Z will give it his makeover soon.


  • At 5/06/2009 7:02 am, Blogger imjustatree said…

    hello from the states. i'm not sure if i've ever had anything at ikea before besides the hot dog, but i hear they have some great deals and good food...i'll have to check it out next time...lovely pictures! all you bloggers have some nice cameras, while i'm just using an old canon =)

  • At 5/06/2009 8:31 am, Anonymous Simon said…

    LOL about your opener! So, so true :)

    Fun night, wasn't it? :)

  • At 5/06/2009 9:02 am, Blogger K said…

    I love Ikea! I actually prefer the elderflower syrup over the ligonberry... Elderflower has more of a unique taste I think. And I've always wanted to try all those spreads but never wanted to buy them all just to try. Ikea should do a sample platter like the ones you guys got to get people tasting!

  • At 5/06/2009 9:24 am, Anonymous Arwen from Hoglet K said…

    Elk-shaped pasta is such a cute idea! I wonder whether the rosehip soup is sweet or savoury?

  • At 5/06/2009 10:52 am, Anonymous divemummy said…

    The $1 hotdogs are a cheap distraction for shopped-out toddlers - do they still do cheap soft-serve ice-creams as well?

    Does IKEA still run the 'drop the kids off for an hour in the play area while you shop' service?

    Maybe Divedude and I could sample on Swedish meatballs uninterrupted?

  • At 5/06/2009 11:17 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh, I bought a small packet of the double chocolate oat crisps! Yum! Definitely going back for those!

  • At 5/06/2009 12:40 pm, Anonymous shez said…

    funny you should ask... i popped in on Saturday for the specific purpose of getting two rolls of paper from the kids section (and to get in & out in under 5 min) and ended up with about six other things 20 mins later.

    the place is addictive i tells you!

  • At 5/06/2009 12:58 pm, Blogger Simon Leong said…

    looks all so yummy.

  • At 5/06/2009 4:56 pm, Anonymous billy@ATFT said…

    I didn't get the chance to try the pickle herrings and is all gone by the time I reached the table. I am glad you covered the food section well.... so much stuff I want to buy!

  • At 5/06/2009 5:46 pm, Blogger Nola said…

    Oh wow! I miss Ikea, we don't have one here in Tasmania.

    When I was a little girl living in Melbourne, the biggest treat was a trip to Ikea, where my parents wandered for hours doing god knows what, and us kids all played in the fantastic room of balls. A swimming pool filled with plastic balls! Awesome. I was devastated when I was too old to play in the room. In fact, I am still devastated.

    I really want that chicken schnitzel now also. I wonder if one has to wait 30 minutes after eating to swim in a pool filled with plastic balls?

  • At 5/06/2009 6:08 pm, Anonymous Chris said…

    Lingonberry syrup sounds delicious! And $4.50 frying pan? oO;; How is its quality and heaviness?

  • At 5/06/2009 7:17 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    Wow who would have thought Ikea could be gourmet. I find it impossible to leave Ikea without buying something even if it is not what I went there for!

  • At 5/06/2009 7:45 pm, Anonymous Yas said…

    I had never even seen food section at IKEA! Looks like you guys had fun eh!

  • At 5/06/2009 9:15 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Great coverage ^^! MMmmm I wish I bought some Daim cake though haha

  • At 5/06/2009 9:39 pm, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    heh heh poster girl? lol lol lol

  • At 5/07/2009 1:21 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Mary Sue - lol, but on the other hand your time for the week would have been quite significant :)

    Hi Karen - Ooh yes, those meatballs were great. The lingonberry jam is such an ideal match for them too.

    Hi Gobsmack'd - Nothing better than a day of food shopping! Zumbo has already had the lime green Dr Apple, and he should be launching his new collection very soon too!

    Hi He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named - Howdy! There are plenty of food bloggers still with point-and-shoots but as SLRs drop in price, they're becoming more and more common. Nothing wrong with old cameras either. It's not about the pots and pans, it's the chef behind them :)

    Hi Simon - Much fun indeed, but ahh food bloggers + food. How could it not be?

    Hi K - I agree. I've often wondered about the crazy roe in a tube but never really been game to buy it blindly. And I do like elderflower but lingonberry is only available at IKEA I think, so it just feels so much more exotic (and a cheerful red colour too!).

    Hi Arwen - I loved the elk pasta too, and not sure about the rosehip soup. I'm guessing savoury - I should've checked the nutrition panel :)

    Hi divemummy - Cheap hotdogs and soft serves are still available. The kids playground is still there too - do you think they'd notice if I snuck into the ball pit? lol

    Hi Reemski - I remember you mentioning them on twitter. They do look rather good!

    Hi Shez - It's crazy addictive. All those colourful displays and crazy prizes. I am helpless in the face of such temptation!

    Hi Simon Food Favourites - It was great, lots of interesting tastes and the Sweden Shop is always full of treats.

    Hi Billy - Oh what a shame. You gotta move fast around food bloggers! lol. Yes I had so many photos, and I am really bad at culling them. I agree, so much I wanted to buy as well.

    Hi Maggie - No IKEA in Tasmana? Commiserations! lol. And yes yes yes, I want to play in the coloured ball pit too. I think I did it once and it wasn't as fun as it looked but yes, I think there should be an adult version too.

    Hi Chris - The frypan had a reasonable weight to it. They tended to get heavier as they increased in price, but at $4.50, I think you'd be happy no matter what!

    Hi Gourmet Chick - It's very hard to resist buying anything from IKEA, and yes, the Sweden shop is definitely my favourite stop.

    Hi Yas - What?! It's after the registers so maybe you missed it on your way out. You must check it out though. So much fun...

    Hi FFichiban - The Daim cake is so good isn't it? Especially warmed so it's slightly gooey... mmm...

    Hi chocolatesuze - lol. You know you are. Video girl too :)

  • At 5/07/2009 8:26 am, Anonymous Veruca Salt said…

    I use to love the salmon portions here but they seem to be getting smaller and smaller. Meatballs are now my new favourite.

    Excellent write up, so many products I must now try.

    Princess cake looks so pretty. I just have to get over my irrational fear of marzipan.

  • At 5/07/2009 4:48 pm, Blogger Minh said…

    I love how suze is the common photo in all our posts! Loved all the pics from the food section down stairs

  • At 5/07/2009 6:21 pm, Blogger uberannie said…

    I love reading about your foodie expeditions! This one looks most enticing, I never thought I'd see the day I'd be craving meatballs from Ikea, but look what you have done!

    I look forward to reading about your next trip :D

  • At 5/08/2009 2:34 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Veruca Salt - I didn't know you were a meatballs fan! And yes, I'm not a huge fan of marzipan either, but it's slowly growing on me, and this one has only a very thin layer. Deliciously outweighed by the mountain of cream :)

    Hi Minh - lol. Suze is totally the poster girl for Sydney foodbloggers! I love the Sweden store - so many goodies I would've loved to have taken home!

    Hi Uberannie - I never consider a shopping trip an expedition, but lol, glad you enjoy them regardless! The meatballs were great and yes heading off in search of food is definitely my idea of fun!

  • At 5/08/2009 11:03 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    IKEA's meatballs are hard to beat. Get a pack and cook it with a rich tomato sauce - eat with spaghetti. Delish!

  • At 5/11/2009 12:25 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi evecho - I've always tended to make meatballs from scratch (they're very easy to freeze) but I agree, that Ikea meatballs would be a very quick dinner indeed.


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