Monday, October 19, 2009

Yountville: Ad Hoc

The first dinner on our Napa road trip was at Ad Hoc by Thomas Keller. Thomas Keller is practically a culinary superstar in this region so you wouldn't have thought that he would open an unpretentious, comfort-food joint on the Yountville Strip (aka Washington Street).

Ad Hoc is essentially the first place that you see when you get off of Hwy 29 in Yountville. When you walk into this place, it's definitely not like Keller's other famous restaurants such as Per Se in NY and French Laundry down the street. Casual, yet modern and refined.

You'll notice the Pig motif throughout the restaurant. Marc wondered about the "pigs" so I did some research and found that Keller's motto for all of his restaurants is "Be the Bacon". First off, who doesn't like bacon? Bacon can make any dish worthwhile. So I assume "Be the Bacon" can be interpreted as, do what you can to make the diner's experience satisfying. In terms of bacon, pretty damn good.

The premise of Ad Hoc is family-style comfort food in a casual environment. Menus come in brown filing folders but the ingenious innovation of this restaurant is you're feasting on what is being served that day. You have no choices. The prix fixe menu will not be disclosed until earlier in the afternoon before the doors open. So basically you are coming here blind and reservations are highly recommended. Above is a copy of the menu of the night, a four-course prix fixe menu.

Ok, moving on to the food.

It was deathly hot earlier in the afternoon (well over 95 degrees) so I opted for a glass of Rosé champagne (I forgot the name but I know it's from Lodi, CA). Shown above, it was served in a drinking glass instead of a champagne flute.

As we were seated, our server bought us freshly baked bread, obviously from the Bouchon Bakery. I liked the rustic crust of the bread slices. I ended up devouring the entire basket by the end of our meal.

Course #1 - Endive & Watercress Salad
endive & watercress with toasted cashews, shaved green onions
and k & j orchards white pomegranate

Course #2 - Snake River Farms’ Kurobuta Pork Loin
pork loin with poached osborne figs, roasted fennel, braised leeks, tfl garden cherry tomato confit
and olive tapenade

Above is closer look at the pork loin, figs, leeks and cherry tomato

Course #3 - Cowgirl Creamery’s Inverness
Inverness cheese with palladin toast and jacobson orchard bartlett pear jam

Course #4 - Chocolate Fudge Brownie
chocolate fudge brownie with strawberry ice cream and candied walnuts

Overall impression, very good. Marc enjoyed the pork loin. Probably the best we've had in a long time. For a 4-course meal, we were stuffed, but leave it to me to try to finish everything in sight. I didn't get to finish the Cowgirl Creamery cheese though. It had a dense, creamy mouth feel that spreads evenly on the palladin toast (cream cheese and toast, my fav combo snack).

Would I come here again. Sure! Maybe next time we'll try to make a reservation on a Monday night when they serve their famous Buttermilk Fried Chicken.

Things to know:
  • No valet parking. Street parking and a parking lot in the back of the restaurant is available.
  • The cost of the 4-course prix fixe menu is $49 per person.
  • Picky eaters need not apply. You won't know what is being served until a couple of hours before the doors open.
  • Often the restaurant is closed for special events, check the restaurant's website to find out if they will be open on the day you are visiting Yountville.
  • Dinner is served on Monday, Thursday-Sunday from 5pm to 9pm. Closed on Tuesday & Wednesday.
  • Brunch is served on Sundays from 10:30am to 2pm.
  • Reservations are highly recommended. You can make an online reservation at Open Table or call 707. 944.2487. Walk-ins are accepted but I would call before arriving.
  • I recommend making a reservation on Monday for their Fried Chicken meal or Sunday morning for brunch.
Ad Hoc
6476 Washington Street
Yountville, CA
707. 944.2487


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