For no good reason we decided to have dinner at IKEA tonight after Alex’s tennis lesson. It’s the first time we have visited the Tempe store, or any other branch for that matter, since the start of the pandemic and it was a strangely enjoyable experience.
The cafeteria, and indeed the whole store, was much quieter than we are used to. I suspect that is more to do with it being a Friday evening than any COVID related effect. I relished the emptiness, the lack of queues and jostling for tables.
Outside, the dark of the night was interrupted by aircraft on descent into adjacent Sydney Airport. Indeed, we remarked that the whole experience felt somewhat like a late night predeparture in an airport terminal once the rush is over.
The meals were nothing amazing, a baked salmon fillet with hollandaise sauce, boiled potato and beans, the famous IKEA meatballs for Alex. Yet after alternating between high quality, mainly Asian, restaurant and home cooked meals and the overdone flavours of fast food that simplicity IKEA was rather pleasurable.
I often feel like we get so caught up in trying to lead sophisticated lives, inspired by countless cookbooks and television shows, that we forget how wonderful simple things can be. It’s one reason I miss the kind of “family restaurants” you can still find in Japan. Simple menus, simple food, simple décor and not much noise. Well, not all of them could claim the latter, but late in night when the outside is neon, amber streetlights in a sea of black, their tiny patch of life is more than enough. I felt like that tonight.
Note: The featured image is from the IKEA Museum in Sweden and beyond the standard serving we had tonight!