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Dining out: IKEA restaurant

Published: Sunday, Aug. 30 2015 11:19 p.m. MDT

DRAPER — Ladies, I have the perfect lure to get your reluctant husbands into IKEA.
Meatballs. Tasty, cheap meatballs. And a lot of 'em.
And the best part is, the restaurant at IKEA is located on the top floor of the mazelike store, so you'll have to lead your fella past bins of AKUT (three-piece kitchen-utensil set, 59¢), hanging NESSANE (mirror with etched edging, $39.99) and row upon row of BILLY (bookcase systems starting at $49).
Sure, he might grumble at first. But once you reach the spacious, white-on-white restaurant and the aroma of those meatballs comes drifting out, he'll quiet right down. Those crafty folks at IKEA keep the product demos coming all during the meal, so as he's scarfing meatballs, he'll also be road-testing IKEA products.
My friend Gaylynn and I held a husband-luring strategy session at the IKEA restaurant on a recent weekday, six kids in tow.
The kids were happy, having just spent an hour watching movies, climbing walls and playing games in Smaland, IKEA's free baby-sitting area (for those small fry who are both potty-trained and between 37 and 54 inches tall). They got even happier when they saw the huge glossy photos of the macaroni and cheese, PB&J and meatballs that are the children's menu.
We adults weren't so happy when we saw the line, which, at that lunchtime hour, resembled the line for Space Mountain at Disneyland. However, it moved along smartly, and within a few minutes we were picking up our trays at the cafeteria-style serving area.
Just as we were wondering how we'd be able to carry all the trays we'd need for two adults and six kids, a magical solution appeared in the form of a cart provided by the restaurant that carries three trays and is light enough for my 9-year-old to push.
That's only one of the family-friendly touches around this place. The most expensive kids meal, which includes Swedish meatballs, fries and a drink, is $1.99. You can get a plate of mac and cheese and a drink for, I swear, 99 cents.
There's a clean family restroom nearby, unlimited refills on fountain beverages (which includes tart, noncarbonated lingonberry juice) and all the kids meals are served using plastic KALAS (sets of bowls, plates, cups and utensils for six, $1.99 each). There are tons of highchairs (ANTILOP chair with safety belt, $18.99) and an entire wall of booster seats.
Gaylynn, who is good at discipline, had a premade chicken caesar salad with tender, juicy chicken — and the salad was more green and crisp than many that are fresh-made.
I, who am not good at discipline, had the medium-size meatball lunch, with a big pile of Swedish meatballs in cream sauce and red-skin potatoes on the side. The meatballs were small and nicely browned, the sauce rich and lightly seasoned, and the potatoes waxy, tender and a great foil for the leftover sauce.
That's not to say it's all meatballs in these parts. On display the day we visited were poached herbed salmon, soup and various sandwiches, including an enticing open-faced sandwich with shrimp, mayo, lettuce and a lemon slice.
The Web site promises that various other dishes will rotate in and out. The kids liked the mac and cheese, a generous but not overlarge portion, and their kid-size plates of meatballs, which substituted fries for the red-skin potatoes.
For dessert, we had tall, lightly vanilla-sauced slices of Swedish apple cake, the deepest deep-dish pie I ever saw, served cool with a crumb crust and firm, spiced Granny Smith apple slices.
The apple cake was great, but even better was the restaurant's specialty Daim torte. This confection looked crunchy, but it was crumbly and delicious, with an almond filling and, on top, a rich ganache-like coating studded with bits of Swedish toffee.
Salads and sandwiches $1.79-$4.49, entrees $4.29-$5.99, kids' meals 99 cents-$1.99.

Rating: ***
Where: 67 W. IKEA Way (off the Bangerter Highway exit of I-15 at about 13500 South), Draper
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Sunday, 10 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
Phone: 572-4532
Web: www.ikea.com/us/en/ (then click on "IKEA near you" and select "UT, Draper")
Wheelchair access: easy but crowded in parts of the dining area


Freelance writer Stacey Kratz reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News. E-mail: skratz@desnews.com

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company