Ikea, Therefore I Am

There comes a time in every New Yorker’s life when he or she must ride the A train to 42nd street and 8th Avenue, snake their way past the crowds to the Port Authority, climb down the stairs and board the bus at Gate 5 for Ikea. This is a rite of passage for any new New Yorker, and though I’ve been here for a year and a half now it’s better late than never. Lisa joined me for the journey and the free shuttle shuttled us to New Jersey in little more than 30 minutes. My favorite part was going through the New Jersey Turnpike tollbooth: I felt like Tony Soprano, except thinner and less prone to murder. Here’s Lisa outside the bus upon arrival:

Now you may begin to wonder: why write about Ikea on a food blog? What does Ikea have to do with food? What’s love got to do got to do got to do with it? Click continue to learn the truth, the truth about Ikea.

People say that Ikea has good meatballs. I wasn’t in a hungry enough place to sample the Ikea meatballs at the Ikea Restaurant and Cafe:


But that white-haired man was in a vain enough place to impose himself in not one but TWO Ikea restaurant photos:


[His facial expression says: “It makes me sad that you are taking a picture of this sign.”]

But I took a picture of the sign to show you the food options at Ikea. They don’t look too terrible. Again, I just wasn’t hungry.

“So then,” you cry impatiently, “why write about Ikea on a food blog? Where are you going with this? I am growing impatient!”

The answer, my friends, lies beneath the yellow sign:



Ikea has cheap, wonderful dinnerware. I first learned of this on New Year’s Eve when I dined at Kate and Billy’s. Do you remember that meal? Do I really have to link back to it? I’m too lazy. Suffice it to say I loved Kate and Billy’s dinnerware and it all came from Ikea. “And it’s all,” they told me, “CRAZY cheap.”

So as you can see above, all those plates and bowls are $0.50. Isn’t that crazy cheap? Do you see why a food blogger should write about Ikea?

When Lauren visited my apartment a few months ago, she observed in my pantry that I still had her ugly blue hand-me-down plates. “Perhaps it’s time for some new plates now that you’re officially a food writer,” she said.

And so my trip to Ikea had a purpose. That purpose was cheap but nice plates and bowls and new dinnerware. Look at these bowls I purchased:


I bought six of them. I also bought six large square plates, six small square dessert plates, and two packages of new silverware. When I got home, I emptied my pantry of the ugly blue plates and bowls, put the new stuff in the dishwasher and began a new phase of my life. The phase called: The Nice But Cheap Dishes and Plates from Ikea Phase.

But before we end this Ikea post, I should tell you that Lisa and I shared this cinnamon bun on the way out:


“I don’t like the icing,” said Lisa. “It tastes bad.”

“I like the icing,” I said. “I don’t like the parts that don’t have icing.”

This expert critical evaluation of the Ikea cinnamon bun should leave you more discerning gourmets satisfied. And for everyone else: if you live in New York and you haven’t been to Ikea yet, you really should go. It’s like going through puberty without growing a mustache. Sure you can survive without doing it, but until you do no one will really respect you. Just ask Tony Orlando.

18 thoughts on “Ikea, Therefore I Am”

  1. For future reference, the next time you hit up Ikea I suggest checking out the Scandinavian foodstuffs section… not just the restaurant. There, you will pick up a jar (or a huge bucket, if you trust me on this) of the lingonberry preserves sold there.

    Then you will make a simple bowl of oatmeal and top it with a couple tablespoons of lingonberry preserve and a splash of milk, and, if you’re like me, you will never ever again eat oatmeal any other way.

    I got this ‘method’ (if you want to call it that) from my dear friend Petter in Sweden. He said that with the exception of a few months spent in Africa, he’s had this exact same breakfast every single morning for as long as he could chew solid foods. I’m hoping there’s something magical about the combination of oatmeal + lingonberries that instantly transforms you into a super-sexy Swede like Petter… maybe it’ll take a few years.

    Anyway, that became long and rambling, but the point is: check out the Swedish foods section! Buy lingonberries! And maybe some smoked or pickled fish, too.

  2. I had a really great cheesecake at an Ikea store years ago. at that time, it was the best I’d ever had. I’d have to go back and try it again to see if it still holds true…

  3. AG, if you were still in Atl you wouldn’t have had such a treck to get there. Our new Midtown store is mighty convenient. :)

  4. Yes, you must get the lingonberries! In addition to being excellent on oatmeal, they are absolutely fabulous poured over plain pound cake or cheese cake or even vanilla ice cream. Although my husband thinks I’m mad to pour them on the ice cream.

    I also love their absolutely huge pasta strainers and their cheap candles and holders.

  5. Rock on AG — you were in my hometown, Elizabeth NJ! :D Too bad you didn’t have a chance to stroll down the road to Jersey Gardens (aka ‘Jersey Garbage’) the gigantic outlet mall. Next time, take the #111 bus to both hotspots and tote back some goodies from the gigantic Marshalls and Nieman Marcus outlets — I’ll never tell!

  6. O, the siren song of Ikea . . .

    But the meatballs . . . dog food.

    Sorry, that’s what they remind me of (and I’m an omnivore.)

    If you get hungry there (and you will get hungry, after a couple of numbing hours tearing through the place) try the cold sandwich with sliced egg and tiny shrimps. Mix a little mustard and mayo together and apply liberally with black pepper.

    Now you’re eating Scandahoovian.

    Or just get yourself a little roll of Swedish chocolates.

  7. skip the swedish meatballs and get the $1 soft cones and hot dogs!…they’re the best thing about IKEA for me…

  8. Oh Ikea, how do i love you… let me count the ways.

    Ikea is my favorite store of all time. I only wish there was one closer to me. Ikea skipped over the entire province of Saskatchewan (Canada). So sad…

  9. Lingonberry everything. Currently residing in my fridge are lingonberry chipotle salsa and lingonberry syrup. Absolute heaven.

    IKEA also has the world’s best mustard herring (they used to carry an even better curry herring, but it disappeared). And an almond crunchy cake type thing.

    It’s funny, we have an IKEA shuttle bus here in Toronto too. It must be a universal plot to bring forth the city-dwellers into the suburbs.

  10. I must say I love Ikea, and live right near the largest one in the southern hemisphere :)

    I bought my dinner set there too, but am v disappointed! Hope this doesn’t happen to yours, but all my plates and bowls are scratched where the cutlery touches them (like how the insides of coffee mugs get when you stir a teaspoon in them too many times…) I guess you do actually get what you pay for!

    Oh, and give the elderberry flower cordial a go! Yum!

  11. Jonas The Swede

    OK OK I realize that the pickled herring might not be for the faint of heart but if you’re up for it, my favorite is the mustard herring (and you can get this around NYC (Eli’s, Fairway, Schaller & Weber, WholeFoods, Citerella, etc.) not just at IKEA) boil some small yellow potatoes (leave the peel on) and serve with beer (a pilsner or other non dark brew goes best) and (ice cold) snapps (there are some Swedish snapps brands around the city if you look hard…OP and Skane are 2 favorites – if you can’t find it, vodka is the closest (which incidentally is why Absolut is called Absolut because it is JUST vodka and not a flavored Vodka i.e. like snapps (has caraway, fennel, and other herbs)). Add some more authenticity by serving it with lightly buttered crispy bread (Wasa or what you find at IKEA) topped with Swedish cheese (see below).

    If that isn’t for you, at least try the cheese – this is really good and every single non Swedish friend I have served this to has enjoyed it. Vasterbotten is like a sharp English farmhouse cheddar, Greve is milder but with a gentle kick to it, Prast is a good neutral all around cheese.

    The candies are good as well – Swedish gummies are for some reason MUCH better than the ones found in the US – not sure why.

    Up for more Swedish food? Aquavit in the city has decent Swedish food – I say decent becuase their cafe really doesn’t serve that much Swedish food anymore and their main restaurant is nearly all Scandinavian ‘inspired’ food (except for their exceptional Sunday brunch which has herring, cheese, and even some Swedish desserts) and the tasting menu is $95 (I think).

    Ulrika’s has more Swedish traditional Swedish food…there is also Good World Bar in Chinatown (hard to find) but the quality there can be to and from…Aquavit also has a decent outpost in the Scandinavia House (37th-38th & Park) called AQ Cafe which serves a decent enough lunch.

  12. I am from the UK and used to live in London with my Swedish Girlfriend. As a treat I would sometimes sneak off and buy her gifts from the Ikea foodstore.

    I learned quite quickly that she absolutely loathes pickled herring. (and indeed all fish, which is quite un-Swedish) However, she would smile for days if I brought home Swedish chocolate.

    I live in Sweden now myself….and no longer need to go all the way to the outskirts of the city to buy chocolate.

    However, Church of Ikea. (because Sundays are soooo popular) is still a great place to buy plates, glasses, furniture and much more at reasonable prices.

    (and its exactly the same as the one in London…and I suspect Ikea’s all over the world.)


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