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Swedish Christmas Julboard (Smörgåsbord) at IKEA Springvale

As IKEA Family members, we were among the first to learn about the IKEA Julboard (Swedish Christmas Smörgåsbord) promotion for 2012. As this was a great opportunity to dine in the restaurant and enjoy some Christmas bargains, we were in.

Tickets were available for two nights, the Tuesday or Wednesday in the week prior to Christmas. Regular purchases were $15 each, while Family members got tickets for $10- as it’s free to join IKEA Family all tickets were essentially $10. IKEA was obviously counting on us to spend big before and after the meal.

The promotion promised that we would “discover how the Swedes celebrate Jul, that’s Christmas, with a succulent selection of traditional herrings, salmon, cheese, crisp breads, salads and of course, meatballs! You can finish the night off with some Swedish Christmas cookies called Pepparkakors.”

We arrived right on time at 5:30pm, which was the opening time. People were being admitted with the restaurant being closed form 4pm. We were given very classy (not) wristbands and then were free to sit anywhere in the large dining space. Unlike other IKEA julboards, it was setup in the normal restaurant service area, and you just passed through as normal to get food and return to the table.

The menu was pretty much the standard IKEA lunch and dinner fare, but free. The ad may have been slightly incorrect as there were no herrings, cheese or crisp breads from what I could see- it was pretty much the standard menu. The finishing biscuits were available only if you purchased the entire tin for an additional charge. Perhaps the ad was written by someone outside the store?

The range of cakes that usually sell at around $4 each were all free, so many punters were taking advantage of this. Bottled drinks could be purchased at an additional charge (standard cost), but the soft drink fountains and hot drinks were complimentary.The hot food was served as normal by staff, with a policy of one plate per person per pass through. Food available included the standard bread rolls, then meatballs with the traditional cream sauce and lingonberry jam, mashed potato, chips, baked potatoes, some vegetables, salmon, savory pancakes, salt and pepper squid and pizza. After the hot food, you could serve your own Greek or garden salad.

The wait was quite long despite two sides of service- the line was around 20-30 minutes during peak. We suggest arriving really early, or towards the end of service to avoid the rush.

As for the food, if you enjoy the IKEA Restaurant fare, then you’ll enjoy this as it’s all the same, but you’ll get to try all the dishes in one sitting. All the food we tried was of a high standard, but it’s the tried and tested IKEA food.

It was a shame not to have a little bit more of the traditional Swedish Christmas offerings, but for the price of $10, this offered some of the best value going around. The only other sticking point would be the crowds of people- at $10 a head, plenty of people were attracted to the offer and the restaurant filled out. The wait for service was very long during the peak time. Also, the restaurant ambiance was quite noisy with young children running around somewhat. But for $10, this atmosphere, and the crowds are to be expected, and this is more than compensated for in the price.

On this basis, we would say that this promotion is great value for money, great food and a great IKEA experience, and we will be returning should the promo run again.

Overview

Food: Solid performance, a little but incorrect in promo representation

Ambiance: Industrial cafeteria style, a little noisy but adequate

Service: Lines long, but staff friendly and helpful

Price: Top marks- outstanding value

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