I am writing this right after attending and enjoying the Mid-Summer Smorgasbord. Usually the menu is pretty much the same from one dinner to the next with some seasonal changes. This year the Mid-Summer dinner had different entrees than any of the dinners have had in the past. The menu from IKEA store to store is generally the same at all locations for these dinners - so the changes here should have been the same at the dinners at the other IKEAs as the advertising for these dinners goes out from all IKEA stores.
The many of the usual were included - and consider the price of these items if you were to go to a restaurant and order them - and for some - if you went to a store to buy them and bring them home to eat. There was three kinds of pickled hearing, Gravlax (in the US - Lox, outside the US - smoked salmon), poached salmon, and hot smoked salmon. There was shrimp salad - small shrimp in a mayonnaise based dressing. There were shrimp stuffed hard boiled eggs. There was the usual Swedish Meatballs. There was tossed salad. There was redskin potato salad. Other than the potato salad this all has been at IKEA smorgasbord dinners before. The usual meat entree at these dinners is ham, but at this dinner there was no ham. There were St Louis Ribs and Bratwurst. Never before has there been St. Louis Ribs and Bratwurst! Both absolutely seasonal - not very much Swedish - but a nice change!
The ribs were fall off the bone. We were told during the dinner that the Food Service Manager cooked the ribs - and he was very proud of it. There were sections of three and sections of four ribs - take as much as you want, of course. They were dry seasoned - no barbecue sauce. I would have preferred barbecue sauce on them but they were meaty and good even without the sauce. Several years past IKEA would serve in their restaurant half racks of baby back ribs in a thick barbecue sauce that were pretty good - but they no longer offer that. These ribs were different - much more meat but no sauce. I enjoyed them!
The bratwurst was also a new entree and these were cooked with onions and cut in half to serve. Large serving platters of brats were put on the two serving tables. The brats has a slight beer taste underlying and they were either cooked in beer - as brats often are - or these were beer brats as sold in some meat markets. They were good! Even my picky eater wife tried them and liked them - I did not tell her there was most likely beer in them or they were cooked in beer until we were leaving. She knew there was a different taste than she expected.
The deserts included fruit salad, fresh strawberries, fresh blueberries, red velvet cake, and a strawberry filled cream cake. There were two types of IKEAs excellent sandwich cookies - one jelly filled and the other chocolate filled. The deserts do change from Smorgasbord to Smorgasbord and are usually seasonal.
Of course, there is unlimited soft drinks, a non-alcoholic seasonal cider drink and now this IKEA has a computerized coffee dispenser that makes lattes, cappuccino, espresso, and Americano coffee. Put your cup under the spout and push on the screen for your choice and it is made in the machine and dispensed into the cup complete with a head of milk foam.
As I have reported in the past this IKEA store goes all out to make these dinners a party and here there is music from a live band that plays both Swedish Music and Country/Cajun music - interesting combination and they are excellent. During the dinner they stream live on Facebook. We were speaking to the manager during dinner and he said that there are very few IKEA stores that have live music at the Smorgasbord dinners and he has booked this specific band for several years into the future to be sure they are available. The band was talking about jobs they play all over the country - not for IKEA.
There is always a seasonal presentation at the dinners. These dinners coincide with traditional smorgasbord celebrations in Sweden. Mid-Summer does take place in Sweden and the people eat all night on the Summer Solstice celebrating the midnight sun. At this dinner tonight at IKEA there was a circle dance done around a tree as done in Sweden for this holiday - and they get children and adults to come up and join in the dance - which is always a simple dance and easy to do. All night they also had a craft table going on for children - and adults - to make a traditional Swedish head wreath with flowers - which is worn at these celebrations in Sweden - no real flowers but some nice paper flowers adorned many heads on this night.
And then there is the price - and I save the best for last. This dinner - with an IKEA Family Club Card is $12.99 each for adults and $2.99 each for children! What you don't have an IKEA Family Club Card? They are free and you get one immediately at kiosks all over the store. Get the card. Buy your tickets in ADVANCE at the cashier in the IKEA restaurant (not the snack bar). These dinners often sell out - this one was sold out. People came to see if they could get in, not having bought tickets in advance, and were turned away. Tickets go on sale during the dinner before the next dinner - and if the next dinner was not the Crayfish dinner we could have bought tickets for that to be held in the Fall tonight. Signs for the dinners go up in the store and in the restaurant about two months or so before the dinner. Depending on the dinner they can sell out quickly.
I had said above about what you are getting here for the money you are paying compared to getting the same off a menu at non-buffet restaurants. Well, around here two slices of lox (smoked salmon) on a bagel with a little cream cheese in a dinner can cost you upwards of $15.99 and more. I had at least six slices of lox tonight along with everything else.
We very much look forward to each of these dinners. We have a lot of fun. We get there to be on line to be one of the first in - you pick your own table - and then we stay to the very end and the music plays all night! One thing we always take note of is how friendly and nice the IKEA employees are in the restaurant and at these dinners. They actually seem to enjoy their work.