IKEA Restaurant offers healthy taste of Sweden, consistency throughout the world


The eleventh installment in the series, Around the World on 80 Plates, Sweden.

Anna Poznyak

The Swedish home furnishings retailer, IKEA, has 276 stores in 25 countries. Since the chain opened an Atlanta location in 2005, it has enticed thousands of home-makers with its affordable and high quality furniture, cozy housewares and irresistible plush toys. I, however, associate IKEA not with showrooms and storage, but rather with the smell of freshly steamed salmon and fried meatballs.

HIGH SCHOOL CAFETERIA: IKEA Restaurant in neat in guiding its visitors.
HIGH SCHOOL CAFETERIA: IKEA Restaurant is neat in guiding its visitors.

One of the most exciting, though  peculiar features of the store is its world-class IKEA Restaurant. At first glance, the restaurant looks like a neat school cafeteria. A row of refrigerators stretch along the perimeter of the room, and handrails divide most of the floor space into neat rows. I grabbed a tray and joined the other customers obediently waiting in line.

Despite the restaurant’s neat appearance, the quality and variety of the menu exceeded my expectations. Appetizers include lightly grilled chicken breasts with a side of raw vegetables, a variety of salads and chicken or veggie rolls. A rotating list of dessert options featured glazed brownie-like cakes, hunks of chocolate cake and apple pie and a traditional Swedish almond cake.

Next up were the main courses, the most famous of which are the traditional Swedish meatballs. Recently, IKEA Restaurant has added veggie and chicken meatball options to its menu. About an inch in diameter, the succulent meatballs are served with both lingonberry jam and a cream sauce.

The Atlanta IKEA offers sides of French fries or mashed potatoess, while European locations also offer boiled potatoes. In addition to standard entrees, IKEA Restaurant also offers some of the more traditional food found in each of its locations. People who love ribs and roasted chicken will leave IKEA Atlanta satisfied.

Salmon, a staple of Swedish cuisine, is prominently featured in the IKEA menu. I love a salmon fillet in any form, whether it is smoked, grilled, raw and salted or baked. IKEA Restaurant attributes the superb taste of its salmon to the fact that all of its fish comes from Norway ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council)-certified fish farms. Raw salted salmon fillet, a part of the appetizers section, is served with a small salad and Swedish dill sauce. The restaurant also offers a starter of smoked salmon with a variety of boiled beans and dill sauce. One can find steamed salmon among the main courses, complete with sides of vegetable medallions, seasonal steamed vegetables and dill sauce. The restaurant also displays a few salads and creamy soups.

AFFORDABLE BITE: Such meal would cost one $17.
AFFORDABLE BITE: Such meal would cost one $17.

The restaurant’s drink selection includes everything from familiar fruit juices to traditional Swedish drinks, such as apple or pear cider or seasonal Christmas or Easter drinks. If you do not want to pay for these more expensive options, order an unlimited refill soda or coffee.

Along with a flexible and tasty menu, IKEA Restaurant offers several meal specials, including a special children’s menu and free baby food, if purchased with an adult meal. The restaurant also has extremely reasonable prices — three people can satiate themselves for only $30. If you happen to be travelling and are disappointed with local cuisine, remember IKEA Restaurant is an inexpensive, family-friendly dining option. The restaurant’s delicious meatballs, steamed salmon, chocolate cake and cozy atmosphere make IKEA a treat no matter where you are.