Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Ikea ... scrummy meatballs, dodgy lifts, and a popular destination

As several people and articles had suggested before the Belfast palace of kitsch opened, Ikea's restaurant offers the most divine meatballs.

Make sure you get the (looks like) cranberry sauce and (they don't call it) gravy to go with it. A regular-sized portion gets you exactly 15 meatballs spooned onto your plate.

Yummmm ... though the spindly chips are a bit bent and not crisp enough.

TIP - If you've applied for a (free) Ikea Family loyalty card, you'll be able to get free tea/coffee at the restaurant as well as the take away stall behind the main tills on the far side of the self-service warehouse.

All the fears of travel chaos on the roads continue to be unfounded - the planners must have got it right! Ikea's footfall is consistently over 10,000 each day, and the car park is moderately full most of the time, but there haven't been many big queues or jams on the approach road.

In fact it's so easy to get into that it's overtaken Secret Sainsbury cafe as somewhere local to pop into on a wet day. And there's a little person who loves to take her shoes off and hop under the bedcovers in the show rooms in the children's section!

Today - Boxing Day - the yellow-jacketed event/security team weren't even needed out with their red-tipped torches to direct traffic into the car park. (Thank goodness - as their Stalinist approach includes directing young families away from the more convenient ground floor spaces, and refusing to let you pick up a trolley to wheel your child from the car park and into the store!)

And they'd obviously cut back on catering staff as well - with paper plates and plastic cutlery being used this afternoon instead of the normal stuff. Not so eco-friendly an image as Ikea normally like to project. And although most aspects of the store feel like they've been engineered within an inch of their life, not leaving a supply of plates beside the dessert slices, running out of bread rolls and being unable to electronically process debit cards wasn't to the usual standard.

(They use old fashioned swipe boards for payments with debit cards. When the slip got creased under the swiper, the till operator casually tossed the slip into the bin at his feet - not even ripping up the paper which had my credit card number and name imprinted on it. So too with the second slip until the third attempt got an acceptable swipe.)

And watch out for the lifts. As well as both car park lifts dying on the opening night, one of the main customer ones inside had been playing up and was cordoned off today. Every new building - residential or commercial - always has its Achilles heel. Ikea seems cursed with dodgy lifts and uneven paving in the smoking corner outside the entrance next to the kids playground.


Stephen Barnes said...

Lingonberry jam and cream sauce...

You can buy these in the Swedish shop, along with frozen meatballs, bring them home, and have the authentic taste of Ikea at home.

John Self said...

Still haven't been, but will probably go before the long hols finish next Tuesday. My brother-in-law, who popped along on Boxing Day too, was impressed by 'Full Irish Breakfast' for £1, though I wonder exactly how 'Full' that is.