Welcome to The Eden Bakery

I was lucky enough to visit the Eden Project whilst in Cornwall last summer. It's a great eco-themed day out for young kids (and overly keen dads) that I would highly recommend. Great design can be found throughout, from the branding to the trendy housewares found in the gift shop.

Surprisingly though, the one bit that really stood out for me was the food hall, it's so well designed that it turns a potentially harrowing experience into a pleasure. Food halls at theme parks are usually horrible places; poor service, dirty tables, and un-inspiring fast food.

These essential refuelling stops can be pretty stressful at the best of times, with plenty of logistical challanges facing young parents, so anything that might improve the ordeal is welcomed. With meal times being so important to families; it makes me wonder why so few have thought to rethink the humble food hall before.

Chefs prepare food in front of you

The main café at the Eden Project, called The Eden Bakery, is located between the two main attractions (massive, dome shaped green houses called biomes) and as such, it's a busy thoroughfare. Steps lead you up to the bridge which connects the biomes and gifts shops and bakeries line the back wall. Downstairs, long wooden tables and benches encourage you to sit alongside other families, rows of white mugs hang above your head (there are no throw-away cups here). Everything is simple, functional and comfortable.

A brilliant playlist of loud, fun music helps make the whole thing feel like one massive family party. There isn't a snippet of cheesy pop to be heard either, it's all great music; think Helter Skelter by The Beatles together with Motown and reggae classics and you'll get a good sense.

In the middle, chefs prepare the meals; pizzas, sandwiches, cakes… each is a hearty, healthy portion of seasonal, local food served on a thick wooden chopping board. As you'd expect, vegetarian and fair trade options are available. Simply grab what you want, then sit down.

All produce is local and seasonal

Once done, you simply wander over to a member of staff, let them know what you've ordered and pay for your meal. There's an element of trust involved, but the Eden Project is a charity and obviously trusts its guests. I'd guess that most people are thankful for the relaxed approach and pay fairly.

It's obvious to me that the people behind the Eden Project have put a lot of thought into their food hall, and it goes to show what can be achieved if you put effort into understanding your customer's needs and designing around them. Even with strict environmental constraints, they have achieved something great here that stands up as an attraction in its own right.

Photos © Eden Project