Mercedes reinvents the drive-thru

It’s in-car dining, but not as you know it

Mercedes Drive Thru
Mercedes Drive Thru

With equal parts performance art and theatre, a dash of decadent dining and a pinch of gastronomic gimmickry, the Mercedes Drive-Thru, a three-day art and fantasy-inspired fast-food pop-up in the lobby of the Old Selfridges Hotel, is an interactive culinary extravaganza that challenges concepts of eating on the go. 

Bompas and Parr
Bompas and Parr | Image: Chris Terry

Hosted by The Avant-Garde Diaries, a Mercedes-Benz arts initiative kicked off in Berlin by Dior creative director Raf Simons last year, the event will see diners bask in the glow of a theatrical light show by Jason Bruges Studio – the design collective responsible for the Olympic Park’s vast Aerial Dynamic installation. All the while, they will sample morsels of subversively playful cuisine courtesy of Bompas and Parr (second picture), the experimental food duo and self-styled “jelly-mongers” behind off-the-wall projects such as Soho’s walk-in gin and tonic vapour installation, architectural jelly sculptures, and this summer’s cake-based nine-hole golf course on Selfridges’ rooftop.

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Diners will be able to drive their own cars into the hotel – deep beneath the department store’s flagship shop on Oxford Street – and along a 40m stretch of polished marble, where they’ll encounter The Doughnuteers, a troupe of roller-girl waitresses. The full sensory immersion escalates as guests are given a culinary aromatic objet d’art to perfume their vehicle and are invited to play music specially commissioned by composer Dom James.

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Theatrics aside, this is no style-over-substance dining experience; the food is as imaginative as the mise en scène. Gastronomic highlights include Bompas and Parr’s take on the golden arches’ burger favourite, the Big Merc (a duck sausage patty sandwiched between doughnut buns garnished with damson ketchup, celeriac remoulade and a vac-marinated tomato), fizzy grapes and an assortment of refreshing sodas, including orange and quinine with khat bitters, and berry with fine apple vinegar shrub. Tickets cost £40 per car or £10 for pedestrians, which includes four meals. Unfortunately, advance tickets have sold out, but a limited number will be available each day on the door, allowing last-minute hitchhiking foodies to hop along for the ride.

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