Tag Archives: travel

Inspiring European Bistro experience now being served in Shaftesbury

When you arrive at Shaftesbury, you encounter what you would expect for a quintessential British town on the outskirts of the New Forest. There are inspiring views of rolling hills, charming craft and trinket shops, an eclectic selection of architecture spanning four hundred years and on this occasion, he legendary Golds Hill. And once you’ve exhausted yourself across the cobbles you need to reflect over a drink and a bite to eat, perhaps in a traditional English Pub or quaint tea rooms? However, if you look a little harder you will find the most incredible European Bistro you could wish to find as a more than the capable alternative. It’s a hidden gem, much like the red painted wrought iron bench on Golds Hill.

The Ridings is one man’s gastronomic vision realised. From the incredible Dutch lighting designs to the impressive full working AGA and the sumptuous green paint from the Little Green Paint Company which adorns the wall like a captivating oil painting or pop art print. And it is this achievement with simplicity through well casted artefacts which makes it so unordinary. It’s more like a work of art than a bistro. And you can see owner John Batt’s commitment to create the perfect experience in every paint brush stroke applied and polished glass chandelier piece. It’s simply exquisite.


Each aspect is so well crafted and brilliantly executed, it projects itself as a tribute to interior design as much as a beautiful bistro experience.

You walk in and are greeted by the fragrant aromas coming from the soup vessel. The offerings when we arrived were Apple or Orange and Carrot soup. And that’s another important aspect of the brand; elegantly simple menu achieved by blending a range of European dishes and ingredients in to different but intentionally uncomplicated dishes. Sandwiches were available, but only two; open hock ham or open cheddar cheese, both supported with rich chutneys. The cleverness of the restricted choice, is a strength because time which others spend juggling twenty different covers is spent instead on looking after customers. The food is amazing and equal to the surrounds.

Variety is served up in the flavours in the original dishes, but compromise is not welcome here in either the menu or the surrounds. From the mouth watering Italian cream cakes to the German honey on the Belgium waffles everything is taken a step further to create a unique experience.

It’s beautifully crafted by John. He’s been in Holland for twenty years, but a chance sighting of the property years ago helped him fall in love with the concept of his own bistro. Some twenty years later it he has side stepped from being a successful Dutch interior designers to start what he (and I agree) will become a new genre of bistro.

We were served by a very energetic and charming waitress who seemed to really love her job. We found out she doesn’t even work here, but popped in for a coffee earlier in the day and asked if she could hang out and help.

When you arrive, you are transported to a world where bistros are designed as they should be and run as they could be. John understands the importance of being a commercial success and has therefore identified other ways to ‘sweat his assets’ with the bistro becoming a restaurant in the evening. For this John hands the keys over to a friend to takes over on the proviso the brand is maintained. Also a shop has also popped up in the corner of the bistro offering customers the chance to purchase all the ingredients used.

I really hope John’s attention to detail approach to give dinners a memorable experience works, blossoms and permeates throughout the bistro world. In fact, we understand examples of his unique approach have started to appear in the other café’s and tea shops in Shaftesbury already! Theft or flattery? Jon would say the latter, of course.

If you don’t fall in love with The Ridings when you are in Shaftesbury, I’ll refund the difference between this experience and what you might expect from a café or tea shop. If you do love the approach and recognise the difference it makes to your visit, spread the word.

It’s an unordinary approach in a very established town, but there lies the charm. It defies convention and has found a way to stand out in a more memorable way. 

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands. For more information on how we can help you contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or ajairanawat@lexdengroup.com, or call us on  T: +44 (0)20 7490 9123. And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris.

Unordinary Thinking No. 2 – An alternative approach to street food

We all love to be inspired. Some of us consume for knowledge, some for motivation and others because it makes us feel better about the world around us. Whichever way we all take something from it.

We love to be inspired by unordinary propositions. For us they tick all of the reasons above. When we find them, we make a noise about them.

Meet Cristiano Meheghin. An Italian foodie who fell in love with London street food. He felt the time was right to push street food in to new spaces. So he brought his family a book of recipes using offal, quinto quarto (translated as the fifth part of four) passed down by his grandmother from Piedomt, to England to bring a new flavour to the streets.

Based at the Southbank, Cristiano uses cuts from the one third of the animal normally thrown away. But supplemented with the flavours inherited from his grandma he is able to create tasty food from these less expensive cuts, which makes the business model work.

An unordinary proposition for the modern palates of Londoners which is achieving stand out on the streets.

Posted by Christopher Brooks

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands.

For more information on how we can help you contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or ajairanawat@lexdengroup.com, or call us on T: +44 (0)20 7490 9123. And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris.

Unordinary Thinking No.1 – Austrian Airlines

At Lexden, we focus on developing solutions for clients’ customer strategy requirements.

To do this we apply our unordinary thinking approach, which allows us to reach new spaces and create compelling propositions and customer experiences.

Our clients like what we do, but given its importance to their world, we don’t often talk about it. So it’s great when we find examples from others which reflect what we do.

This blog is based on a couple of experiences I had from earlier this year…

…I am writing whilst on a short haul flight to London Heathrow from Vienna. Seats on short haul flights are typically uncomfortable. Leg room on short haul flights is typically restricted, unless you fly business class, which I’m not.

I am sitting in a seat which isn’t making my back ache or pushing my knees against the back of the seat in front, and I am travelling economy. So how has this been achieved?

Simple really, by the design folk at Austrian Airlines applying a little ‘unordinary’ thinking to the issue they want to solve.

  • The outcome they started with was more leg room
  • And then widening the criteria to ‘how to make customers more comfortable in their seats’ the areas of improvement increased.

And as well as the passenger improvements to the seating specification being delivered, it also would have proved more satisfying for the designers and the airline too.

The outcome of the enhancements are a 5cm slimmer more ergonomic seat and therefore 5cm more leg room.

If the brief had been a single minded focus on improving the leg room only, would the ergonomic seat have been the solution? Almost certainly not.

The focus would have been on reducing basket space or something similar. A redesigned chair would have been seen as out of scope. But by combining the issues, the adaption costs of the leg room improvement and the more comfortable seat can be offset against each other.

This is testament to the value of ensuring that customers are at the heart of any activity, ‘customers first, profits follow’ as I heard it put by a leader for a global giant in it’s field.

And Austrian Airlines, as it is in this case, has achieved this by widening the vista thinking from ‘leg room’ to ‘customer comfort’.

Interestingly it’s really about focussing attentions on the real issues and not getting side tracked by distractions. And being unwavering in that focus; the bigger picture approach.

Vista thinking enables this. It ensures value creation or value proposition development is strategically aligned. This then empowers all involved to focus with confidence at a tactical level.

Posted by Christopher Brooks

Lexden is a Customer Strategy Agency | We put customers at the start and the heart of marketing strategy

We work with brands to attract and retain happy customers | We achieve this by helping them to understand what makes their customers tick, building memorable customer experience strategies and creating engaging customer value propositions.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to our monthly ‘Putting Customers First’ newsletter. Or for a discussion on how we may be able to help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on T: +44 (0) 207 036 2968. M: +44 (0) 7968 316548. You can also follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Lexden is a marketing strategy agency which creates unordinary propositions to motivate customers and deliver commercial advantage for brands.

For more information on how we can help you, contact christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com or call us on T: +44 (0) 207 0362968 M: +44  (0) 7968 316548. And you can follow us on Twitter @consultingchris.