Friday, December 14, 2012

Swedish Christmas Julbord at Ikea Store Restaurants

I have been sharing some wonderful meals that we have had at the Ikea Store Restaurants all you care to eat smorgasbord dinners that they hold four times a year. We recently enjoyed the Christmas smorgasbord - called the Swedish Christmas Julbord.

All of these dinners are held for two seatings on just one night. The first seating is at 4 pm and ends at 6. The second seating starts at 7 and ends at 9 pm. This year's dinner was held on December 7th. Tickets for the dinners must be purchased in advance and one week after the sign went up at our local Ikea store that the Julbord dinner was coming, we went to buy our tickets. The second seating was already sold out. I grabbed the first seating without hesitation. I don't usually like to dine this early but I was not going to miss this dinner. The price for the dinner is $12.99 for adults and $4.99 for children, but if you have an Ikea Family card - available free at kiosks all over the store, the price was discounted to $9.99 for adults and $2.49 for children. This is all inclusive except for sales tax. Your beverages are included and there is no tipping.

We arrived at 3:30 to wait on the already long line of people with tickets to get into the restaurant. The restaurant on these days is closed from the afternoon to the evening to prepare for this special dinner. While the Ikea restaurants are ordinarily cafeteria style, the cafeteria section is closed and large smorgasbord tables are set out where there are usually tables in part of the dining room. I noticed right away that many of the people on line were Seniors. Older people seem to like dining early. There were some families and younger couples mixed in. At 4:00 pm tickets started to be collected and the line quickly moved into the dining room. You are told to sit at any table you wish. Each table was festively set with  silverware, glasses with fanned red napkins in each one and for this dinner a bottle of a Swedish holiday drink made from hops and malt. It was a sweet soda drink that in essence was "beer soda" - though totally non-alcoholic. The couple that eventually sat down at the table next to us have been to Sweden and the wife was Swedish. They loved this drink and finished their bottle quickly. They have been to this dinner before and they made a point to comment to us how authentic everything served is. 

Once seated you go up to the smorgasbord tables as you please. There are a lot of people dining at these dinners and early on into the dinner there is generally a line to get up to the food. It never was more than a few minutes wait and there are very friendly employees who are directing the flow to get people to each of the two sides of the two smorgasbord tables. As you got halfway through the line area, there was a server offering everyone a hot cup of Glogg. This is a non-alcoholic version of hot spiced wine. The idea is that you will finish your cup of Glogg by the time you get up to the smorgasbord tables. I mistakenly decided to hold onto mine until I got back to the table and juggled it as I filled my plate.

The food at each of the smorgasbord dinners that I have been to at Ikea have been very much the same from one dinner to the next. There are slight variations and also some differences in how some of the food is prepared. I will list through menu that was offered - and if you have read my articles about Ikea smorgasbords before you will not a lot of similarity.

There were three herrings. All were in a wine sauce. Two I had a hard time telling apart though the seasonings visible with the herring in the sauce were different. The third was sweeter than the other two - and I preferred that more than the other two. There was Gravad Lox with Mustard Sauce on the side. This is smoked salmon - similar to American lox but seasoned  a bit differently. There were large rolled slices of the salmon to take. The mustard sauce was a bit sweet and you added this as you wished. There was Najad Salmon with Horseradish sauce. This was cold smoked marinated salmon thinly sliced. There was also poached salmon - a large whole salmon poached and set out on a platter. You dug out what you liked from the fish and scooped it onto your plate. There was a nice cold cream sauce on the side to add to this. I have commented on this before - I do not like cooked salmon. I do like this poached salmon. There were also hard boiled eggs with shrimp stuffed into the middle of each half egg. There was one more fish dish that I was not aware was fish until later in the meal. There was what looked like au-gratin shredded potatoes. My wife asked me about them and it looked to me to be just potatoes. If you read this site regularly you know that my picky eater wife does not eat fish. I took some and she waited for me to report to her.  The potatoes were good but a bit salty and there was a grainy feel mixed in with the cheese. I told her that they were just potatoes but they were salty. On her next trip up to the smorgasbord she took some. She did eat it and commented that there must be something more than potatoes. I was sure not and I spoke too soon. On one of my trips up I saw a sign on the table near this platter that I had not seen - GRATANG Jansson - with an explanation - shredded potatoes with cheese and herring. I wondered if I should tell her. I asked if she wanted to know. She did and it was no big deal, but she took no more of it. Other than the salt, it was good.

Those were the fish dishes but there was much more. There was Swedish Cucumber Salad, Red Beet Salad, and Swedish Potato Salad. I particularly liked the Swedish Potato Salad. There was Christmas Ham that was being carved on a table of its own. The ham had a thick crust on the outside. The ham was served cold. There was sharp mustard served on the side. There were Prinskorv Sausages which are a favorite of mine. There were Swedish Meatballs in creamy gravy and there were jellied Ligonberries on the side. There was hot red cabbage. There was supposed to be boiled potatoes with dill, but in their place was mashed potatoes with dill. On a side counter there were several different cubed cheeses. There was also Swedish crisp bread and also large pieces of a French type loaf bread.

The usual Ikea soda bar beverages are available including Ligonberry juice plus Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, etc. There is also coffee and tea.

I know that many of my readers want to hear about deserts and, yes, there were several desserts to choose from. There was Swedish Rice Pudding with Almonds. There were also two other puddings. A platter was stacked high with squared of chocolate truffle cake. This was a rich and very thick cake - more like a fudge than cake. It was quite good. The rice pudding was interesting - the rice was not cooked soft as some rice puddings are. There were also very thin Swedish holiday cookies.

This dinner was excellent and the value was phenomenal. If you came even to Ikea for a single plate of any of the fish dishes that were offered here as much as you cared to eat, you would pay almost as much as this entire dinner cost. Where I live, even at a deli counter, Lox is extremely expensive. Here was all you wished to eat.It is rare to find smoked salmon or lox on a buffet and if you do it will not be one of the lesser priced buffets.

Everyone around us was enjoying this dinner. The Swedish lady next to us was piling her plate high - as was here husband. While we were eating we heard people at another table talking about purchasing tickets for the next dinner which is for Easter in March. It sounded like the tickets were being sold right then at this dinner. My good wife went up to find out and came back with two tickets - again $9.99 with the Family Card for the later seating of the Easter Smorgasbord.

If you have an Ikea store near you and you want a buffet dinner that is something very different, keep an eye out for signs about the Easter Smorgasbord in March. In fact, you could ask now at the restaurant cashier. Get one of the Family Cards - they give changing discounts in the store and also free coffee or tea at the restaurant - which day to day is not a buffet.

I look forward to the next Ikea smorgasbord!

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