Friday, March 29, 2013

Ad Hoc - Thomas Keller Napa Valley

When you think about food in Napa Valley, it's hard not to immediately think of Thomas Keller and the many restaurants he has in Yountville.  After deciding we were not ready to spend the money on an evening at French Laundry (too much wine to buy and other food to eat!), we made reservations at Keller's ad hoc.  ad hoc started as a temporary restaurant for the purposes of experimenting with different foods and dishes, but after such an amazing response from the guests, ad hoc became a permanent fixture in Yountville.  Open Thursday through Monday, there is a set four course tasting menu (about $50/person) that changes daily with some optional supplemental dishes (about $15).  One constant is the fried chicken served on Mondays - while we did not get to indulge, from what I hear it's pretty outstanding!

After being seated, our server quickly brought us some bread.  I will say, I was not impressed with our server - I felt a bit rushed.  While the menu is a given, a little extra time and explanation would have gone a long way.  When we ordered, he basically only wanted to know if we wanted the wine pairing (I did) and if we wanted the supplemental side dish that evening (we did) and he was gone.  The rest of the staff - the runners and bussers - did not give off this same feeling and were more accommodating.

A look at ad hoc
In spite of our server, we had such a lovely meal with some delicious food.  Each of the dishes is served family style, and while we were a party of two I think each portion would have fed a family of four easily!  No one will feel like they are not getting their money's worth here!  

To start, we had a farm fresh salad with oranges, sunflower seeds, beets, hard boiled eggs among other ingredients, which included a variety of lettuces.  This was a hearty salad bursting with a variety of flavors and textures in each bite.

Farm Salad
Next to arrive was the main course of the meal, which was an amazing prime rib, accompanied by the smoothest mashed potatoes accented with horseradish.  We seriously could not believe how light and whipped the potatoes were.  The horseradish was heavy enough to offer add a nice bite, but not overwhelming.

Mashed potatoes
The prime rib was served a lovely rare in the roasting pan with some carrots, peas and potatoes.  The meat was so tender.  It was hard not to keep going back for more!

Prime Rib
The supplemental side on our evening was a lobster mac and cheese, which was yummy, but I think we are a bit spoiled with lobster here in New England.  Had we known the portion sizes prior to ordering, I think we would have skipped this dish.

Lobster Mac and Cheese
Just in case we were not full already (and attempting to keep a little room for dessert) out came the grilled cheese and tomato soup dish.  Served on a narrow wooden tray, the grilled cheese was just oozing cheesy goodness.  Nick said the tomato soup was super flavorful and perfect for dipping the sandwich.  For my tomato-hating self, the sandwich did not need any dip!  I think it was my favorite part of the meal, although I am easily persuaded by cheese :) 
Grilled Cheese Extravaganza!
Finally, for dessert we had a lovely little deconstructed lemon meringue pie.  Anything served in a mason jar is automatically more delicious (like a cast iron skillet!).  The pie was just the right size and a lovely finale to the meal.

Deconstructed Lemon Meringue Pie
In order to allow our stomaches to settle before heading out, we had some coffee.  Served in a French Press, the coffee was the final cap to our meal.  As it was our final meal in Napa Valley, we spent most of the dinner and coffee talking about what a great trip we had!

Server aside, ad hoc was a delicious meal and a fun, laid back way (cheaper) of experiencing Thomas Keller's food!

Nick and I left Napa Valley and California's wine country already making plans to head back. It was such an amazing experience.  Having been and seen how it is all laid out, it is far less intimidating than it was when we first started planning!

We learned so much about wine and quickly felt more comfortable with California wines.  If you are thinking about heading to Wine Country - GO!  You won't regret the decision.

Ad Hoc on Urbanspoon


  1. I'd love to try Ad Hoc one day! And I will try to go on a Monday for the fried chicken hehe

  2. I love the presentation of the food, especially the grilled cheese.

  3. definitely a place i'd love to check out!! need to plan a trip out west...

  4. I'm so jealous!! That prime rib looks amazing! And so does the grilled cheese and tomato soup! (Not great about the waiter though.)

  5. what an incredible meal - minus the waiter... I loved Ad Hoc this summer and was way happier enjoying a less expensive and more accessible Thomas Keller meal.

  6. sounds like you made the right choice with this one, and wine country in general. :) bummer about your server. it just goes to show you how good ones enhance the experience that much more!


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