I had a 10-course meal in a rental car with Amex and Resy's new 'drive-thru' experience
For months during the pandemic, dining out at restaurants just wasn't possible.
And while numerous establishments have since restarted sit-down service, many people still prefer take-out and delivery rather than eat-in.
But what if you can get the best of both worlds -- a dining-out experience from some of the best restaurants in town without having to leave the safety (and comfort) of your car?
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That's the concept behind the Resy Drive-Thru, a unique dining event that partnered with one of the best all-around credit cards for food, the American Express® Gold Card.
It may very well be the fanciest (and most over-the-top) drive-thru you'll ever encounter.
With Amex's acquisition of Resy in 2019, the issuer is investing in its cardholders' dining experience. And it clearly shows two years later.
Launched first in Los Angeles, I took part in the second pit stop of this unique experiential event in Miami.
While it currently isn't possible to make a Resy Drive-Thru reservation, it's now a core event for the Resy brand, and expansion to other markets may very well happen in the future.
So what's it like to combine some of a city's best chefs, a multi-course tasting menu, live music and entertainment...and your own car?
How it worked
The sold-out event took place in mid-March over a two-day period, with timed slots on Resy's website and app over the course of each evening.
While dinner didn't come cheap at $110 per person, everything was included from the 10 courses (plus two bonus ones for Amex Gold cardholders) to live entertainment and non-alcoholic drinks (remember, we're driving), as well as exclusive take-home swag.
The Resy Drive-Thru took place at 1 Herald Plaza, right along Biscayne Bay in Downtown Miami. It's a location that resembles a large outdoor parking lot but is perfect for events just such as this one.
At check-in, a staff member took our temperature and directed us to the exclusive Amex Gold card VIP lane (more on this below) to begin the culinary drive-thru journey.
Amex and Resy weren't kidding about the "driving" part of this drive-thru. Traffic cones created a "route" that meandered through the parking lot, with several courses served at each designated stop.
Live musicians performed throughout the evening while the aroma of each course wafted into my rental car.
Meanwhile, meals were prepared in tents along the makeshift roadway. And assigned servers walked with each vehicle, so you personally never stepped foot outside of your car. (Remember, COVID-19 safety.)
The drive was actually enjoyable. It was neat to see meals prepared outdoors from such a myriad of Miami restaurants and well-known chefs. And the evening culminated in a drive-thru doughnut tunnel (yes, you read that right).
Related: The best ways to use your hotel points in Miami
Eating in your car
Growing up, family road trips always meant having meals in the car. So I had a lot of practice in this department.
For each course, a masked server would pass over two dishes: one for myself and one for my guest in the passenger seat.
Resy also provided a wooden tray as a makeshift table with utensils, a napkin and a place to set each course. After each course, the server would reappear to take away the disposable dish and any trash.
It took a bit of getting used to eating in this fashion (especially with a steering wheel in the way).
But after a couple of courses, I had it down to a science: take a photo of food, push the driver seat back, enjoy a meal, scoot the driver seat forward, drive to the next stop. Rinse and repeat.
Exclusive Amex Gold cardholder perks
With 4x Membership Rewards points at restaurants, the Amex Gold (now also in Rose Gold edition) tops our list for the best credit cards for dining out.
That's why it was fitting for the card to sponsor the evening's culinary event. In fact, Resy allowed Amex Gold cardholders exclusive presale access and "4x" the perks.
As a Gold cardholder, we got a custom car lane with extra bites and a dedicated server per vehicle.
Then, we experienced an "aroma-driven immersive tunnel" that simulated a doughnut being made. Naturally, there was also a gold-glazed doughnut at the end (because why not).
Finally, Gold cardholders also got a recipe book and a limited-edition Resy apron. I will definitely be making use of that apron back at home.
Related: Amex Gold Card review
Here's a rundown of the 10 courses (plus two bonus ones for Amex Gold cardholders). Note: don't read any further with an empty stomach.
Niu Kitchen: Strawberry Gazpacho, Shrimp Skewer, Basil Oil, Madras Curry Powder
The first dish was a star and ended up being one of my favorite courses of the evening. The perfectly cooked shrimp had a nice zing thanks to the curry powder, while the gazpacho refreshed the palate nicely.
PLANTA: Sushi Box With Ahi Watermelon Nigiri, Miso-Truffle Torched & Pressed, Spicy Unagi Dragon Roll
The vegetarian sushi was a surprise highlight with strong flavors, perfectly cooked rice and a fresh take on under-the-sea classics.
Osaka Cocina Nikkei: Yuzu Tuna Ceviche of Tuna Cube, Crispy Quinoa, Kyuri, Yuzu-Ponzu Sauce
This was my favorite dish of the entire night. Generous chunks of raw tuna were marinated in a perfect blend of citrusy yuzu-ponzu sauce that I basically drank up.
Cafe La Trova: Arroz Con Mariscos “Croquetas,” Saffron Aioli
I devoured this course in one fell swoop, but the croquette was excellent with a crispy exterior and a rich rice and seafood filling.
Macchialina: Marinated Red Fish, Chickpeas, Eggplant, Smoked Pepper
This dish had a lot of bold flavors going on and while they were good as individual elements, I didn't love how it all came together. Still, the fish was well cooked.
Harry’s Pizzeria: Harry’s Wood Fired King Oyster Mushroom Pizza Fontina, Black Truffle Crema, Caramelized Onions, Thyme
The mini-pizza slice had great flavor coming through from the rich black truffle and caramelized onions. Unfortunately, the pizza itself was a bit overcooked and was served lukewarm.
Balloo: Indian Spiced Chicken Thighs, Cauliflower & Raisin Amchar
The chicken was well seasoned and cooked for the ideal amount of time. It was still juicy on the inside yet had a nice smoky flavor on the outside.
Mr. Mandolin: Spicy Lamb Kebab on Lavash with Onion, Sumac & Parsley
Lamb is one of my favorite meats and this one had good flavor but was marred by being slightly overcooked.
Carbone Miami: Meatballs Agrodolce with Pecorino Romano
Originally from New York, Carbone opened its South Beach outpost earlier this year. The meatballs had a beautiful sweet glaze and were perfectly cooked. This was one of my favorites of the night.
Pubbelly Sushi: Yuzu Key Lime Sando, Roasted Merengue, Yuzu Lime Semifreddo, Graham Cookies
While refreshing, this fancy ice cream sandwich didn't hit the spot for me. The lime flavor was a bit too strong for my liking and the graham cracker didn't have the crunch needed.
Exclusive to those with the Amex Gold card
As mentioned, there were two courses exclusive to Amex Gold cardholders. The first was a decadent and delicious foie gras from L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon. The second was the donut course, a rich gold-laden treat from Miami institution The Salty.
We had an awesome dinner as part of the Resy Drive-Thru.
While the food, as a whole, was delicious, the event was just as much about the unique experience. I was impressed at the personalized service's execution, live entertainment and even the over-the-top donut tunnel.
Yes, it was all bit gimmicky, but that's part of the appeal. As a visitor to Miami, it was a great way to get a sampling of the city's top restaurants in just under two hours. And many of these establishments struggled at the height of the pandemic, so the drive-thru put them in the spotlight.
Hopefully, we'll see this experience pop up in other cities soon.
For now, I am satisfied with knowing that this is probably the best drive-thru I'll ever, well, drive through. That fast food lane won't quite be the same again.
Amex and Resy invited TPG to experience this event.