Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc is my absolute favorite restaurant in the Bay Area. I can't think of any other restaurant that captures the spirit of Sunday Nite Dinner better than Ad Hoc. The food is rustic yet refined and served family style. The atmosphere is friendly, super casual and lacks any pretentiousness.
Ad Hoc offers a daily fixed-price ($45), four-course menu. There are no choices and only one menu is prepared each evening. The family style supper begins with a hearty soup or an extremely fresh salad, followed by a main course of seafood or meat. There's an interlude with an artisan cheese course. Then the meal is concluded with an amazing dessert.
Yesterday, Hungry Bear and I paid our fifth visit to Ad Hoc this year with our friends, Brennan and Deb. The menu was...
Haricots Verts and Potato Salad
Proscuitto di parma, walnut halves, shaved radishes,
sherry vinaigrette and fingerling potatoes
Marinated Skirt Steak
Sautéed wild mushrooms, pea shoots and Texas 1015 onion rings
Cowgirl Creamery Sally Jackson Goat Cheese
Marshall farm’s wildflower honey and toasted almonds
Warm Chocolate Brownie
Whipped vanilla cream and caramel sauce
As always, the meal lived up to expectations. The green bean and potato salad was fresh and tasty with only a light dressing. The onion rings were nice and crunchy with a slight kick from the cayenne in the batter. The marinated skirt steak was perfectly cooked and melted in your mouth. I believe the highlight of the main course was the sautéed wild mushrooms (maitake, beech and oyster) with bacon lardons. If you go often, you'll notice the frequent use of applewood smoked bacon, and of course, everything is better with bacon!
The third course is always an artisan cheese course and we tend to under appreciate it, because we are excited about the upcoming dessert. Usually, I'm very full after the main course and want to save room for dessert, so the cheese gets a cursory taste. However, if you appreciate good cheese, you will love the cheese offerings at Ad Hoc.
Warm chocolate brownie with whipped cream and caramel sauce... it speaks for itself. Ok, I will say that it's the best chocolate dessert that I've ever had at any restaurant. The brownie is made with a bittersweet chocolate and there is a lovely, chewy outside and soft inside... spectacular!
After eating five amazing meals at Ad Hoc, I'll share some key insights about Ad Hoc.
- Limit your bread intake - the bread from Bouchon Bakery is fantastic, but the portions are very generous, and you need to save room for dessert.
- Ask for seconds - even with the generous portions, you can always ask for seconds if you particularly enjoy an item, side dish or dessert.
- Ask questions - the staff is extremely friendly and knowledgeable about ingredients, cooking techniques and wine, so ask away and you'll learn about sous vide cooking and plate cut short ribs.
- Signature dishes - the braised short ribs are to die for. The buttermilk fried chicken is served every other Monday. The panna cotta and Basque cake are popular desserts with the staff. A smaller version of the chocolate brownies, called bouchons, can be purchased down the street at its namesake bakery.
- Sit at the bar - can't get a reservation? Just go early and grab a bar seat. You can also order a la carte at the bar if you aren't hungry enough for a four-course meal.
- Daily Menu - the menu can be heard by calling (707) 944-2487 or by visiting Ad Hoc's daily menu. Although with the increased popularity, it is very difficult to reserve a table the same day.
- Special requests - despite the single menu each day, dietary restrictions are accommodated.
I cannot rave enough about Ad Hoc. We actually prefer going to Ad Hoc over The French Laundry. For the price, we can dine at Ad Hoc FIVE times to every French Laundry meal. Plus, we love the casual, laid-back atmosphere at Ad Hoc. And nothing beats sharing a family style meal with good friends!
Location & Hours:
6476 Washington Street
Yountville, CA 94599
Hours: Dinner Sunday through Saturday
Update 08.30.2007: Starting Sept. 18th, Ad Hoc will be open seven days a week.
Update 2.29.2008: Since this post, we have gone to Ad Hoc three more times and loved each meal. Here's another slideshow of the dishes we enjoyed recently. The pictures are taken at night with a flash, which I dread doing. Nevertheless, they turned out okay and the dishes still make my mouth water!
[tags]ad hoc, thomas keller, yountville, chocolate, fixed price, rustic, refined, brownie, american[/tags]