As we read on their website, for the London Fashion Week, Bompas and Parr “designed a temporary drive-thru restaurant called – drum roll, please – “Mercedes Drive-Thru“! From September 14 – 16, guests can enjoy an extraordinary art and dining experience, featuring a spectacular mix of food, light, and fashion. The formerly humdrum act of deciding which size soft drink to guzzle while going 90kmh will morph into an exciting, delicious, and signaturely awesome sensory experience.”
Having missed out on their previous endeavours (such as the fun sounding chewing gum machine) I thought it’d be fun to try this latest experience, and take @bmcboy’s much loved classic Mini for a spin. At a total cost of £46 it didn’t seem too risky and overall, it did sound intriguing and different.
We invited two friends along and arrived at the Orchard Street entrance before our 1pm slot. No information had been provided on exact timing or location (and my tweet query went unanswered) so we were not sure what to expect. A friendly staff member told us where to queue and that we could get in early if we wanted to. Sure, we said. We queued at the entrance of the garage (belonging to the old Selfridges Hotel) and yet again another handsomely dressed and well-spoken enthusiastic member of staff really got us in the mood by a nice marketing speech on what we were due to expect, things like ‘ask to get mercked’ in order to get a helping of gin in our sodas and so on.
Ready to get in
The menus which had been given to us also were very well put together. You’d understand barely a thing on what you were actually supposed to be eating, but it all sounded really exciting and cool.
The description of the food was enticing if a tad confusing: “Perfection between two donut buns. A duck sausage patty lubed with damson ketchup and piled with celeriac remoulade and a tomato slice vac-marinaded [sic] with elen herbs and spices” or “a combo for one that features two of our tastiest meat alternatives. Lion’s Mane mushroom and Stichleton cheese smeared with cucumber ketchup in a donut bun”.
I opted for the ‘Veg Merc’ and the others for the ‘Big Merc’. While we waited behind the doors, smoke was coming out, some weird fairground sound came from the loudspeakers and we all got ready for something really cool and amazing behind those doors.
These opened, and we got inside the next space where we ‘ordered’ our food through speakers bearing the Merc logo. Lights and some sort of music played loud, again gearing us up towards bigger things to come. How exciting!
Finally the last set of doors opened. We entered a relatively small space and stopped.
The drive through – on the left, the ‘cheese car’. No idea what it was for
Two girls dressed in vintage looking roller-skating outfits rolled around the car with flags, lights flashes, music blared around us and a glass fronted room full of bemused people eating (the ‘pedestrians’) sat on our left. I’m sure we offered some form of entertainment given the beauty of our classic red Mini, good for them. In two minutes, one of the girls came to our car and handed us 4 sodas (one, despite the request to do otherwise, not ‘mercked’ much to the dismay of our law abiding driver @bmcboy).
Then the 4 boxes of food. Cardboard boxes looking relatively big revealed a McDonald’s looking wrapped bun and a few grapes.
My Veg Merc
The menus told us that “according to a Hells Angel we spoke to, they are the ultimate street food”. Somehow I find it hard to believe a Hells angel would carry grapes and eat them while riding his Harley.
We were then ushered out. So this was it, an actual drive through, with no space to go and eat our ‘fast food’.
Yes we were given a map of eating roadie spots in London, shame that none of these was actually in the vicinity. We stopped on a single yellow nearby and guzzled down our food and our sodas.
The food? Well my bun was ok – donut like with fried and breaded mushroom, tomato, some sort of dressing and a fried egg, it was well flavoured but a little mushy, and a bit fatty in the end. The food was not that hot, giving us the feeling that was just prepared exactly like in a fast food, sitting on the hot plate waiting for the next customer to ask for it. Pleasant but not memorable.
Allegedly, these buns are the result of a “six months intensive burger quest” and “turbocharged for a more intense gustatory experience” and “high in hedonic value and geared to stimulate your neurons”. Honestly, I have never heard so much baloney with regards to fast food. Dr Rachel Edwards-Stuart used her skills to develop not only the menu but the whole drive-through experience, the design, the décor etc. “inspired by the physical, biological, ethical, architectural and temporal dimension of the car’”. What? Yes that is what is on the menu. I’d like Dr Edwards to explain what exactly is the temporal dimension of our car, let alone the physical, biological etc etc.
Verdict? Yet again I feel the silly, culpable victim of a very well put together marketing campaign. At least the price was reasonable on this one, we had fun and just laughed at the whole experience, but it could have been so much better than this! It just happened so fast, we did not expect it to be such a short and sweet thing. What a shame. I think I’d better stay away from fashion related ‘food experiences‘ from now on.