If you don’t know your Toftbo from your Gutvik, an interminable stroll through the labyrinthine aisles of IKEA will sock your vocabulary like a Mats Sundin hip check, so that by the time you manage to find the exit (that is, if you find the exit), you’ll feel disoriented by the loony lexicon and the harsh, unnerving whiteness of this immense structure. Georges Pompidou himself would likely extol the virtues of the restaurant’s antiseptic postmodernism, but I found myself distracted from the need to order a meal by an inexplicable desire to buy a floor lamp. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself in a similar predicament. If it’s ultimately Swedish meatballs you crave, you’ll extol the virtues of the Euro-cafeteria’s kottbullar: 15 meaty orbs slathered in a sour-cream gravy with some damn fine mashed potatoes and killer lingonberry preserves, all for a reasonable $4.99.
The thought of eating fish in a furniture warehouse may strike some as frighteningly Scandinavian, but the gravad lax ($4.99), cured salmon served with a mustard-dill sauce, wasn’t too bad. Washing it down with apple cake ($2.29) and a bottle of Kristian lingonberry-apple sparkler ($2.29) almost made me forget I was dining inside an iPod. And when the exit doors finally came into view, the sweet scent of fresh-baked cinnamon buns halted me in my tracks. Another distraction – how Swede it is.