My first visit to Rhodes IKEA as a kid with my parents included a lot of pretending-this-is-my-bedroom games in the display units and trying to wheedle my parents into buying me a soft toy here and a stationery set there. What I remember most vividly, however, is marvelling at the food court, a pot of gold at the end of our winding-path rainbow that happened to contain unbelievably cheap Swedish meatballs, mashed potato and even free coffee. And they came in a cafeteria tray, which was definitely the absolute height of cool.
It’s easy to assume that cheap, ‘fast’ food is able to sell at that cost because corners are being cut during the food sourcing and production process, but the key emphasis on IKEA’s new menu is its commitment to sourcing from local and sustainable suppliers, especially suppliers who are taking steps to mitigate their environmental footprint and ensure their livestock are ethically cared for. Though there’s a mark-up in the prices of the food to reflect this commitment, the price range still falls comfortably within the typical lunch budget.
Please note, the below menu items are not all available right now at IKEA but will be rolled out over the next 12 – 24 months, so keep checking back.
After the rollout of this menu, the next focus will be on even further localisation to cater for the specific demographics in each IKEA branch’s location – look out for Asian cuisine inspired dim sum in the future.
The top pick of IKEA’s new menu, for me, was the lamb (served on shank – larger version retailing for $14), which would be the perfect dish on a winter day, full of fresh, tender meat and filled with a slight minestrone-esque sauce, which work perfectly with the typically Swedish mashed potato base.
The pork belly (larger version retailing for $14) was also a beautifully cooked dish, featuring a great balance of fat and meat in the cut of pork belly, accompanied by a cute, flavour-filled ball of stuffing and thin-cut fries. It’s a daring logistical move to attempt pork crackling in large quantities and it seems IKEA are yet to find the perfect balance – my piece of crackling, though warm, was a bit too hard hard and required pressure with knife and fork to crack. I’m hopeful, however, that this issue will be sorted by the time it’s ready to roll out.
The Chicken Maryland (larger version retailing for $14) wanted some more seasoning in its Italian-style sauce but was, otherwise, a solid meal option, full of hearty winter and root vegetables.
Perhaps the most exciting menu item to be introduced over the next 12 – 24 months, however, is the Dessert Trio, which will retail for a whopping $4.99. For all three desserts. Repeat after me: Take. My. Money. It’s safe to say that you will not find a better value dessert anywhere in Australia, let alone ones that look as pretty as these, and the best part is that dessert is a key agenda item for IKEA’s food team.
Sourced from a Sydney based supplier, the passionfruit mousse was definitely my favourite of the lot, incorporating a refreshing, smooth hit of fruity flavour with sweet mango syrup, and a chocolate biscuit crumb base. That being said, the salted caramel tart and the black forest tart were both hot contenders, featuring smooth, light chocolate that is higher quality than its price tag would suggest, crumbly shortbread tart shells and even a touch of gold glitter. If you go to IKEA for nothing else, go for their dessert platter – I have a feeling it’s going to draw its own crowd of fans.
If you’re attempting to recreate movie scenes or practice your pun-making skills over the next 12 to 24 months, you might just find you’ll be able to reward yourself with some great food at the end of your journey.
Find your nearest IKEA store: ikea.com.au
I Ate My Way Through dined as guests of IKEA