It’s No Ikea, But F&B Gudtfood Will Have to Do
I still hold out hope that one day Manhattan will get an IKEA. It’s probably futile, but a guy can dream, right? The funny thing is, I don’t even care about the furniture. I just want an IKEA Cafe! In my eyes, the cheap furniture shopping world is divided into two seperate groups. Those who have gotten over the fear at eating in an Ikea, and those who haven’t.
There are a few stages that every Ikea shopper goes through. First, denial. You see the signs for the food and laugh. “Who the hell would eat at Ikea? That food looks gross!”. Then, after a few times of going to Ikea (you never get everything done in one trip), the curiosity starts to seep in. “Well, it is pretty cheap. It can’t be that bad, right? It’s just so damn cheap!” Finally, you submit. It helps if you forget to eat before going shopping- in which case you end up being starving after navigating through the gigantic store, with no other food options.
I went through all these stages, and when I came out on the other end, I had discovered a new weakness… swedish meatballs. Covered in gravy and topped with lingonberries, they are perfect for anybody who loves the sweet and salty combo. And at around $4 for ten meatballs, it couldn’t be any cheaper. Awhile back I wrote about a fancy Swedish meatball sandwich at FIKA Swedish Espresso bar. Super delicious (but expensive), I lamented that there was no equivalent to Ikea in Midtown.
After writing that, a tipster recommended that I check out F&B Gudtfood, a “European Street Food” chain on 52nd btw. Lex+3rd. Founded by one guy from Germany and one from England, they wanted to start a place where you could get all the street food they enjoyed in their travels around Europe Fancy hot dogs, fish and chips, frites with different dipping sauces, and of course- Swedish meatballs.
I finally made it over to F&B to see if I had found an Ikea replacement. What they’ve got, pictures and a +/- after the jumpLike most non-traditional Midtown chains, it is slightly over-priced for the amount of food you get, but they try to make up for that in quality and unique selection. F&B has definitely got the unique selection. The bulk of the menu is their gourmet hot dog and veggie dog choices with 19 different topping combinations using fancy ingredients like guacamole, parmesan, sweet corn relish and sauteed peppers to go along with more traditional toppings like sauerkraut, grilled onions and chili.
They also had various “frites”, like truffle frites (which they claim to spray with truffle oil), cheese frites, classic french fries, sweet potato frites, haricot frites (green beans) and the two “entree” frites- the chicken frites, and the steak frites. The chicken frites are like the chicken fries at Burger King, but better… although that’s just a guess since I haven’t eaten at BK in years. The steak frites, are slices of beef served in a cup with french fries. How could that be bad?
But alas, I was there for the Swedish meatballs- which come in two different options. The entree order served in a cup for $5.95, or the Swedish Meatball roll, a sandwich for $3.95. I went with the sandwich. While the steak frites, chicken frites, hot dogs and fish and chips are offered as combos, you get no such luck with the Swedish meatballs- so I was ”forced” to order sweet potato fries ala carte, which cost $2.95.
The sandwich was tasty but an absolute mess. They got the gravy all over the side of the roll, and more poured out when you bit into it- but it still tasted pretty good. The lingonberries did their job too, adding that delicious sweetness that makes real Swedish meatballs so great. (I don’t remember them having lingonberries with the Swedish Meatballs at my Bar Mitzvah…) The bun was fairly small (like a fat hot dog size), but for $3.95 it wasn’t too bad. But let’s put it this way, if this sandwich cost $2, I would say it was the greatest sandwich of all time.
When you hear “European Street Food” and see a great menu like this, there are two ways the place can be considered amazing. Either the quality of the food is so great you don’t mind paying the really expensive prices (The AQ Cafe), or it’s so cheap you don’t care about the quality (Ikea). F&B falls somewhere in the middle. It’s not so cheap that you don’t care, but it’s not sooo expensive that you get angry about the food not being top notch. In other words, it’s good- but it’s no Ikea.
In all fairness though, I should mention on the way out we saw someone eating a Chicken Frites Wrap which looked pretty amazing. It might be the way to go. But I’ll leave that for another day.
The + (What someone who likes this place will say)
- If you like traditional Swedish Meatballs (with the gravy and lingonberries) this is the cheapest place to get them in Midtown
- The selection of fries is awesome… (I love Sweet Potato Fries!)
The – (What someone who doesn’t like this place will say)
- None of the food blows you away for the price.
- I don’t like Swedish Meatballs
- The Swedish Meatball sandwich is too messy
- The Swedish Meatballs don’t come in any sort of combo, making it a little pricey to get fries and a drink with it
F&B Gudtfood, 150 E. 52nd St. (btw. Lex+3rd), 212-421-8600