Friday, April 25, 2014

Easter Smorgasbord at IKEA

We went to another of the seasonal one night only smorgasbord dinners at the restaurants at the IKEA stores. We have been many times now since first discovering these wonderful dinners a few years ago. These are dinners for the seasons - one at Easter, one mid-summer, one that features primarily crayfish in late summer and one at Christmas. This past year they held one that was not announced with very much notice on Valentines Day - which unfortunately for us was in the midst of a heavy snow storm.

We have always enjoyed these dinners and they are a wonderful value for the money - in fact extremely wonderful for the money as they only cost $12.99 per adult or $9.99 with an IKEA Family Card which are given free. The children's price is $4.99 or $2.99 with the Family Card.  This price includes all you care to eat of the Swedish foods that are served along with desserts and soft drinks. As I have written before, many Swedes and Scandinavians attend these dinners and praise the food as authentic. The dinners are always held on a Friday night and there are two seatings - one from 4:00 pm to 6:pm and one from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

The foods served for the most part at each of the seasonal smorgasbords are basically the same with slight variations. What I have noticed at the last two or three smorgasbords that I have attended is that the selections have become a little more limited than they had been the first year, a few years ago, that we had started attending these dinners. Perhaps limited is the wrong word to use, perhaps it would be better to say that less is being put out. In the past there had been two complete buffet setups consisting of one very long and on short table for each setup with duplicate items. Lately this has been reduced to one very long table for each setup and a common short table for all of the buffet lines.They send you down the long tables on each side - reaching from side to side to take what you want. This means that four lines then converge on the one small table which this year held poached salmon.

This Easter Smorgasbord held the Friday BEFORE Good Friday was very crowded. The room was overflowing with guests (though as we were going in, they were still offering tickets meaning that the 7 pm seating had not sold out). The lines to the buffet tables were long - though they move quickly and at a steady flow. The staff that IKEA assign to these dinners are top-notch and go out of their way to make this a party atmosphere for all. At the Hicksville, NY IKEA where we attended this Easter Smorgasbord, we were near the beginning of the line when the buffet tables were opened and the guests were invited up to begin to dine. The tables were full of everything that was on the printed menu that is out (at the dinner and in advance) to tell you what is being served. There were two types of herring, a variety of salads, Swedish meatballs, Gravlox, marinated smoked salmon, platters of sliced ham, Prinskov sausages, poached salmon, cold shrimp with the heads on, breads, boiled potatoes cheese, shrimp stuffed hard boiled eggs and more. There are various toppings and dressings that go with specific dishes also out in serving bowls on the buffet tables.

I decided to start my first plate primarily with salmon and herring - though I could not resist my favorite Prinskov sausages and I took a couple of those. I took several spoonfulls of each of the two herrings and also several slices of Gravlax and marinated smoked salmon. I added some beet salad to my plate and went back to our table. My wife - as regular readers know - does not eat seafood and will not eat shrimp with the heads on - took ham, meatballs and tossed salad along with boiled potatoes. I was going to wait until my next trip up for ham. The problem was that on the second plate - which was not too far into the evening - all of the ham was gone. As was the herring. Now, there was plenty to take and they were replenishing what they had, but it was a great surprise to me that ham which is a feature of this dinner - and actually all of their dinners - was gone by 7:30! I filled my next plate with a couple of meatballs, more Prinskov sausages, poached salmon, and more smoked salmon (the Gravlax was also gone - as were some of the salads). I was glad that I took the herring on the first plate - and my wife was glad that she took the ham on her first plate! While they have run out of some things during past dinners, this was the first time that they ran out so early into the dinner. Perhaps the first seating overwhelmed them - BUT since this diner is sold by ticket in advance they know how many to prepare for at each seating.

The food was excellent. It always is - and we ate plenty. But we would have preferred to have had the choice that was on the table for most of the night. Something else was going on during this dinner - not by the restaurant - but by the people who were dining. People were filling plates of items and returning to their tables with them - not as in filling their dinner plate - but filling a plate with item x and another plate with item y. This was especially true when it came to desserts. Plates filled with six or more cupcakes brought back to the table as along with other desserts the same. We went up for dessert and there were no cupcakes left - and the table next to us had a plate of seven cupcakes which they did not eat - when they left, the cupcakes were still there and before they left they filled a bag with about thirty cookies which they took with them. This seemed to be going on all over. Just like at any buffet taking food away is not permitted. My wife commented to one of the employees what was happening whose reaction was "that is not allowed"  but nothing was done. The employees were trying hard to get out what desserts they had to be sure that everyone who wanted something got something - but those cupcakes looked real good and they were gone.

During the evening we purchased our tickets for the mid-summer buffet. We are looking forward to it and will know to be sure to take what we want ahead of time - we will eat everything that we take, of course. Of course, every IKEA is different. Nothing may have run out of any of the other buffets being served at all of the other IKEAs on that night or other things may have run out. No matter what - you can't beat what you are getting for ten bucks - a smoked salmon appetizer alone would cost you that or more in a restaurant.

Tickets are now on sale for the mid-summer smorgasbord. Go to any IKEA to the restaurant cashier and purchase your tickets. If you don't already have one get an IKEA Family Card at any one of the many computer kiosks around the store and you will save two dollars each on the smorgasbord and be entitled to reduced price specials in the restaurant and special discounts around the store.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Brooklyn IKEA eliminated the buffet-style dinner. One went up to the cafeteria server and told them what you wished and they gave you as much as you wanted. This was for the hot foods. The cold items were at a small buffet table and largely ignored. VERY limited variety of desserts this time.