In Sad Girl Taste Tests of the past, I’ve headed to establishments on my block (like Taco Bell and IHOP) in search of disgusting novelties that can be obtained quickly and brought back to my apartment to be eaten in sullen solitude. Yesterday, however, I decided I was going to go the extra mile (read: extra five miles) to Red Hook’s Ikea, where (like other locations across the country) they rolled out “veggie balls” on Wednesday to compete with their beloved Swedish meatballs as a healthier, allegedly vegan option. (No horse meat, probably!)
Before I get into the specifics of that, I would just like to say how extra sad girl this Sad Girl Taste Test was; going to Ikea by yourself is depressing even if you just intend to grab yourself a new LACK table and get the hell out sans affordable dining, but eating in the cafeteria alone, gazing forlornly out the window into the grey, post-apocalyptic abyss that is the Red Hook landscape to avoid making eye contact with the families and couples that fill the surrounding tables, is next-level tragic. (Don’t worry // I waited to have my existential crisis in the showroom, where I had a particularly emotional moment after having caught my solo reflection in the mirror of an impossibly dazzling kitchen display LOL!)
The DRYCK FLADER sheds a single tear.
As you can see from the picture above, I went ahead and got both the veggie balls AND the traditional meatballs (because there has to be some standard of comparison, you know?), along with an elderflower juice box (which is essentially a less fun version of St. Germain) for a grand total of $12.49, a dollar and two cents of which was the sales tax. The veggie balls cost $4.49 a serving and come in a set of ten along with sweet potato puree which looks a lot like vomit, and a pile of steamed carrots, broccoli and cauliflower, you know, in case you forgot you were eating a plate made entirely of vegetables. MEANWHILE, the Swedish meatballs cost $5.99 for a set of fifteen (don’t judge me, I walked thirteen miles yesterday and I DESERVE IT) with a scoop of mashed potatoes, gravy, and (of course) lingonberry jam.
Price points aside, the Swedish meatballs were overwhelmingly more visually appealing than the veggie balls, if only because they didn’t feature the terrifying sweet potato puke sludge for a third of the plate. But it’s all about the TASTE, right?! Well, I do have to say that the veggie balls tasted better than I expected; they’re kind of just like veggie burger bites (just think your standard Boca burger re: flavor). HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean I think they by any means nailed it! Even if the veggie balls had been out of this world amazing in terms of taste (again, they weren’t bad, but they were nothing special) the sweet potato puree (which was legitimately glorified baby food) and completely flavorless vegetables (which your elementary school cafeteria probably did better) knock this dish into negative points land. Maybe it was the Red Hook landscape talking, but this, my friends, is apocalypse food.
MEANWHILE, the Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes tasted even better than usual, probably because the veggie balls had sent my taste buds spiraling into a deep depression just moments earlier. I get that they’re far from vegan, but damn…why would you ever even TRY to make something that compares?!
I get that Ikea has a handful of reasons for introducing the veggie balls to the menu; for one thing, they’re trying to reduce their environmental impact and boost sustainability, and they also want to provide “healthier” options, which don’t revolve around fifty cent hot dogs and gravy-laden meatballs. But also, there is this really great invention called SALAD that is pretty difficult to fuck up…maybe they should ditch the absurd meatball imitations and go for a plate of that instead.
Bottom line: if you’re vegan and/or health-conscious, just bring your own goddamn snacks to Ikea. And for everyone else, never, ever stray from the Swedish meatballs. (And as a general rule, probably don’t go to Ikea alone.)