December 16, 2009 | 9:13am
Never did I think my favorite guy on the planet would want to spend a Saturday afternoon at IKEA
, but there we were, hauling down I-595, giddily chatting away in the car about dishes, curtains, and tea lights. (No, he had no idea what that last item was.) To be entirely honest, I don't think he was entirely sold on the idea of going in the first place, especially while college football games were on, but I have a few theories regarding why he joined me: (a) I may have bribed him with some sexual favor (can't quite recall), (b) he probably wanted a bit of representation in my diva-esque domain, and/or (c) I might have mentioned that there's a restaurant hidden somewhere in the home furnishings mecca.
Regardless, it wasn't long before we arrived. As we yanked a huge metal cart from the others, I explained to him the magnetic pull of this place for us estrogen-
enhanced humans and how we tend to make annual, sometimes seasonal,
pilgrimages, endlessly hoping to find funky fixtures and cheap-yet-chic
textiles that will inspire us to change our dwellings just enough to
make our casas cozier. Most of the reason I head for
the store isn't really the brightly colored bookcases or the light
fixtures that scream "I'm so cool!" but for the opportunity to shovel
lingonberry sauce and gravy-laden spheres of beefy heaven down my
IKEA's in-store restaurant
is certainly not what one would call high-class; it's all cafeteria style with plastic trays, signs instructing diners where to dump their soiled plates and cutlery, soda fountains, and huge signs announcing the offerings. But there's still something magical about this eatery.
I was eager to disclose my secret foodie find with Mr. Persnickety after making him sort through bins of plush animals and racks of rugs for an hour. I thought I would even have the opportunity to reward him with a plateful of Swedish meatballs, but alas, he had to ask that deal-killer question as the server carefully counted out my portion: "Are these made with pork?" To my surprise, the server answered, "Yup. Beef and pork." So much for sharing the prize.
We sat at a high-top table, each of us sporting plastic trays, mine with 15 roly-poly meatballs, extra lingonberry sauce, and mixed vegetables, and his with a buffalo chicken wrap. The meatballs were quite flavorful, and he gave a grunt of approval for the wrap, a blend of spicy chicken bits with lettuce and shredded cheese enveloped in honey wheat. We split a peach spritzer and a slice of princess cake, a scoop of dense whipped cream with white cake, raspberry jam, and a yellow-greenish marzipan shell. (Wanna hear something crazy? That dessert has its own freakin' Facebook site
Looking over the bill -- my plate cost $4.99, and his was a laughable $3.99 -- my love felt compelled to announce, "This entire meal costs less than that silverware organizer I saw you sneak into the cart!" I let the comment pass without reaction, since I've grown to understand that men truly care about furnishings only when it relates to eating, watching television, and doing the deed.
Not only did we get a unique meal for a pittance, but I also managed to score a cake decorating set, a wall-mounted thingy for hats, and about a hundred tea lights. And now my honey has a special place for his baseball caps in my house and the incentive to take me back to IKEA again soon, maybe not for the décor but for the only Swedish meatballs I know of in Sunrise.
IKEA is located at 151 NW 136th Ave. in Sunrise. Call 954-838-9292 or visit ikea.com.
Freelance writer Riki Altman eats everything that won't try to eat her first (with exceptions, of course) and dates younger men, older men, and older men who act like young men, along with locals, tourists, illegal aliens, and just plain aliens. Love Bites is a compilation of what happens when her dining and dating ordeals collide. Sometimes, it just ain't pretty.