Monday, October 08, 2007

HFF Quickie: IKEA Restaurant

The on-site restaurant is a veritable institution in most other countries. Museums, department stores, cultural sites, landmarks, all have places to eat. We're not talking the obligatory snack bar with lukewarm hot dogs, dry chicken breasts, peanuts, and so many frozen bananas that you find in America but an honest sit down cafeteria with a selection of premade entrees and sides and a few cooked or nearly cooked to order dishes.

Why is that? A lot of Berkeley people will tell you that it's because Europeans have a magical connection to food and they value truly eating much more highly than Americans. Berkeley people know that they are better than other Americans because they understand this too. Berkeley people understand why Europeans need fancy food in close proximity to their priceless works of art.

Berkeley people are douche bags.

What a cafeteria does is it keeps visitors on location longer where they'll hopefully spend more money and "make a day of it."

But I'd also argue that cafeterias are simply better because they are awesome. Food kept impeccably styled and warm over steamers and heat lamps has a certain pleasure to it. I think it's because it's cooked boringly by machines instead of poorly by human beings.

Anyway, you can go to IKEA and experience this pleasure.

What did we eat? I had the gravlax platter which was decent, surprisingly unsalty, and fairly flavorless. This was probably due to the lack of curing, the mediocre quality of the salmon, and the frigidly cold temperature at which I pulled it from the reach-in. I also had a side of mac and cheese which was better than most shit out of a box and it was 99 cents. Girlfriend Charlie had the steamed salmon entree which was firm and well-cooked, though the whole dish had a sort of monochromatic character that was discomfiting. Roommate James had the meatball platter with lingonberries. The meatballs were pleasantly there and didn't make us wish that they weren't. Highlights actually were the two desserts, a simple mild almond tart and a thick slice of apple crumb pie. Well-spiced and pleasantly textured.

The IKEA restaurant wasn't particularly good, but it was particularly cheap. And in the world of cafeteria food it was better than most. The restaurant's also freshly remodeled. And did I mention cheap?

It's not worth a stop just for lunch. I mean, this isn't Costco. But if you're letting your soul gradually drip out your anus while you shop for Flergens and Merqins at IKEA, might as well stop in for some meatballs and salmon for less than $10 and call it a party.

IKEA Restaurant gets a reluctant HFF stamp of approval.

IKEA Restaurant
4400 Shellmound St.
2nd Floor
Emeryville, Ca 94608
Open daily 9:30AM-8PM

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