Friday, June 21, 2013

MIdsummer Smorgasbord at IKEA

It was time for one of IKEA's special smorgasbord dinners in their stores' restaurants again. This one was our second year at the Midsummer Smorgasbord.  We have attended each in 2012 and so far in 2013 with the exception of the August All You Care to Eat Crayfish dinner. This dinner, tonight (a week before you are reading this article) was the most fun of all of the dinners because it was set up to be a real party with a three person band that played, sang, and set up singalongs and  dances to Swedish music. The food offered was very similar to the food at each of the other IKEA smorgasbord dinners. The all you care to eat menu served as a buffet is basically the same at each of the special smorgasbord dinners that they have. The summer dinner offers more in the way of fresh fruits - strawberries and blueberries, along with tossed salad with berries added, and a dessert of rhubarb crumb pie tarts, and cherries in syrup to put over a very nice and dense cake, plus ice cream.

Let me tell you the menu, in case this is the first of my articles that you are reading about IKEA's smorgasbord dinners. The following was the menu as printed:

Assorted varieties of herring
Hard boiled eggs with shrimp
Gravad Lax with mustard sauce
Smoked salmon with horseradish sauce
Whole poached salmon
Tossed green salad
Cucumber salad
Rhode Island Salad
Midsummer fruit salad
Assorted Swedish cheeses
Boiled dill potatoes
Meatballs with lingonberries
Swedish ham served cold with mustard
Prinskov sausages (sauteed)
Crisp bread, thin bread, and dinner rolls
Ice cream
Assorted desserts

I need to compare this dinner that we have just had with the similar dinners that we had in the past year plus at these special Smorgasbords. While the menu was basically the same, there were some things slightly less at this meal. Yes, there was herring, but instead of the three distinct varieties of marinated herring that I sampled last year at some of the dinners, there was just one type of marinated herring out at this dinner. The smoked salmon initially put out on the serving tables was one type of "cold smoked" salmon and not the three varieties that were served last year. About halfway through the dinner seating - an hour into the two hour dinner - that smoked salmon was gone and a "hot smoked" gravlax took its place. Both were good, but my preference was for the "cold smoked" salmon and I was glad that I took a quantity of it on my first plate as it was gone later. I have never had "hot smoked" gravlax before, but I have heard of it and, here, it was good. Basically, I am observing a cutting back on the fish offerings - not the quantity but the varieties. Nothing else ran out during the coarse of the dinner (except a simple thing of sour cream that was put out served with the boiled potatoes). The staff here do an excellent job of replacing emptying serving platters on the fly. As soon as a platter is seen as getting low, someone comes out almost immediately with a new platter to take its place.

As always the food was good and this dinner sells out to people who seem to know Swedish food and very much approve of what is served here. This is a dinner (as are all of the special Smorgasbord dinners at IKEA that you must purchase tickets in advance for and a month or more before the dinner these tickets sell out. There are two seatings - 4 pm to 6 pm and 7 pm to 9 pm and both sell out. Price is extremely reasonable - $12.99 per adult and $4.99 per child BUT if you have a freely distributed IKEA Family Club card - free at any IKEA store - the price is $9.99 per adult and $2.49 per child.

So this dinner - for the first time - had entertainment.

The photo is not great. I took it with my phone from a distance and waited until almost the end of the evening when there were a lot less people and I could get as clear a shot as I could with no one in the way. Before this there were people dancing. Traditional Swedish folk dances were set up and taught to those gathered on the dance floor and everyone had a great time. There were also a few singalongs with the Swedish words repeated several times so that everyone could pronounce them and were cued to shout them out at the appropriate places in the songs. Lots of fun. IKEA - at least here - has never done this before and I don't know if it was also done at other IKEAs for this same dinner. This little combo band was very personable and mixed in some familiar American songs including some country and Cajun! (Getting ready for the next dinner which will be the Crayfish Feast in August?)

The local IKEA store just renovated the restaurant dining room and made it larger and brighter. There are also new tables in a new arrangement so everyone was a little confused who had been to these dinners before to see how the room was set up. The buffet tables were moved off to the side of where they have been in the past and the dining tables were arranged a little differently. In the past when you arrive you stand on a line with your ticket waiting for the room to open and be seated at 7:00 pm. It is always wise to arrive early - 30 to 45 minutes - to get on line to be sure you get the table of your choice. There are tables set for four to 8 and on this night there was one group of 20 together who rearranged tables so that they could be together. This was fine and several large groups of families and friends did similar. The big surprise this night was that they started to let the line in at 6:40 pm to be seated but the buffet serving area was not opened until 7:00 pm. Everyone was invited to go up and get a beverage and wait patiently at their tables until the hot and cold foods were placed out and the party officially declared "started".  It is just the two of us and we sat at a table for four. As it turned out no one came to sit at the other two seats at our table. Most stay through most of the dinner though some do arrive after 7 and there is so much food that this is not a problem.

I had a great dinner, ate more than I should have, and had a wonderful time. I am looking forward to the next Smorgasbord - but for us it will not be the Crayfish Feast in August (while I marginally like crayfish, my picky eater wife does not care for them and there is not much else at that particular dinner). The next regular Smorgasbord is just before Christmas. There are three - Summer (June), Christmas, and Spring (Easter). The fourth similar dinner is the Crayfish Feast in August.

It is different and unique. Even my picky eater wife finds plenty to enjoy - great ham, Swedish meatballs, and more! This is a really should try - as long as the menu appeals to you! They were selling tickets for the crayfish dinner. Had they been selling tickets for the Christmas dinner we would have bought them. We almost missed those last year and had to take the earlier seating because it was sold out in October.  We will start asking for them this year after the crayfish dinner in August and I am sure they will be on sale at that dinner.

And there are IKEAs all over the US and Canada - and all of them have these dinners on the same nights! Check with your local IKEA store!

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