A Taste of Sweden: IKEA Food Market and Cafe

IKEA food market and cafe

A Taste of Sweden: IKEA Food Market and Cafe

IKEA Round Rock

1 IKEA Way (at I-35), Round Rock, 512/828-4532

Daily, 10am-9pm

Food might not be the first thing you associate with IKEA, the Swedish superstore that finally arrived in the Austin area last year. But along with a staggering array of inexpensive but well-designed furniture, cool household goods, and the best candles in town, IKEA has brought a new international flavor to town: Swedish food.

This compact grocery corner inside the big box contains hundreds of foodstuffs imported from Sweden that make for a very entertaining ramble around the aisles: There are some very interesting items to be had, from great wheels of flat bread to cloudberry jam to canned fish balls in bouillon. There are Swedish cheeses and savory snacks; jillions of cookies, crackers, and candies; and lots of frozen desserts. At the least, the item names are translated so you don't have to rely entirely on visual discernment.

I think my best discovery so far is the Finax Swedish rye bread (rågbröd) mix in a quart milk carton ($3.99). Just add water, shake vigorously, pour into a pan to rise, bake, and voilà!: a flavorful loaf of dense, chewy bread. I love the lightly herbal elderflower drink (fläderdryck, 99 cents per carton), as well as the pale green sweet/tart gooseberry jam ($2.99 per jar) on toast. I was less taken by matjes (sweet, lightly marinated chunks of raw herring, $2.99 per jar), but since it's practically the national snack of Sweden, I'm glad I tried it. One of the bargains was the 2.5-pound bag of frozen Swedish meatballs (köttbullar, $7.99) made from beef, pork, bread crumbs, spices (and no additives); they are meaty and delicious and ready for any sauce you care to plop them in.

If sustenance is required amid power-shopping, IKEA also contains a large cafeteria-style cafe that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I found the hot dishes strictly frozen-to-steam-table and best avoided, but the sandwiches and desserts were tasty and certainly economical. I particularly liked the open-faced sandwich of Iceland shrimp and hardboiled egg dressed with fresh dill and mayo ($2.49) and the tartlike cinnamon-apple cake with crème anglaise ($2.29). I haven't yet tried the 99-cent breakfast (eggs, home fries, sausage, and a croissant), but I'm going to work up my nerve. If you just need a fika (coffee break), the plump, hot cinnamon rolls ($1) will hit the spot.

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