Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Restaurant Spotlight: ad hoc in Yountville, California

On our most recent vacation, we decided to dine at chef Thomas Keller’s ad hoc restaurant in the charming Napa Valley town of Yountville. We had read great things about the food and atmosphere, so we jumped at the chance to eat at a Keller restaurant. His French Laundry is among the top restaurants in the United States, but even two dedicated foodies like Michael and I just couldn’t justify spending $500+ for one meal…no matter how good it would be!

Ad hoc works like this: for only $49/person, you get a lovely four-course meal. The first course is a salad, the second course is your main dish, the third course is a cheese plate, and the fourth course is dessert. One set menu is served nightly…what they serve is what you eat, basically. We looked at it as an opportunity to sit back and let the staff feed us what was fresh and local that day. What a fun foodie adventure it was!!

Here is what we ate on the night when we dined at ad hoc.

First course: The first thing the waitress brought to our table was a yummy haricot vert and corn salad. It was served with shaved radish, caramelized leeks, and an avocado green goddess dressing. The combination of super-fresh veggies and a creamy dressing were just out-of-this world! It was a great start to our meal.

Main course: The entree that evening was a “study” in BBQ. We were served a plate of pulled pork, the most tender deboned beef short ribs, and a a few very spicy baby back ribs. The sides were baked borlotti beans and cole slaw. This is what I termed “upscale comfort food”. So good…we ate every bite of food on that plate!!

Cheese course: The cheese board that evening was a California blue cheese, homemade rosemary flatbread, and granny smith-caraway seed chutney. The cheese and flatbread were both stellar. However, I’m not a big fan of caraway seeds, so one bite of the chutney was enough for me.

Dessert: By the time dessert was served, we were getting pretty full. But not so full that we passed up the chance to dig into banana-nut cakes with coconut cream cheese icing. They were served with a deep chocolate drizzle sauce sprinkled with fleur de sel. The combination of the cake and bitter dark chocolate sauce was simply divine…not TOO sweet, and just the right portion.

I think that this was one of the best all-around meals I’ve ever eaten. The food was fresh, flavorful, and nicely presented. The restaurant was laidback, but not too casual…but not at all stuffy either! I subscribed to their e-mail list, so I receive their nightly menu every day. I’m not sure what’s worse: the drool that gets on the keyboard or knowing that I can’t jump in the car and eat there whenever I want!!


  1. Ooh, I'm quite literally salivating! Can you please post the link to the restaurant? I'd love to subscribe to their menus, too!
    -Robyn (from FT/FB)

  2. www.adhocrestaurant.com
    If I was rich, I'd fly out just for dinner when they have fried chicken night. They serve it every other Monday...and we ate there on a Monday...just not the right Monday ;)!

  3. Thanks, Wendy! :)