Ad Hoc: Nobody Does It Better

I’ll spare you the repeat history lesson on Ad Hoc in Yountville, Thomas Keller’s accidental restaurant. I’ve written about it in a previous post. Only this restaurant would warrant a write-up from me each time I pay them a visit.

Yes, it is that good.

So let’s get straight to the food. My Husband and I had planned carefully a trip to this restaurant on their famous “Buttermilk Fried Chicken” night, which happens only every other Monday. After all the hype from every foodie who has experienced it, I knew we were in for a treat.

We started with a Baby Iceberg Lettuce Wedge Salad with marinated cucumbers, paper-thin baby radishes, pickled red onion, crumbled bacon and green goddess dressing.  Again, as with every other salad I’ve had here, I don’t know how the lettuce they serve can be so damn tender and sweet!  The tart and sweet onion was the perfect foil for this salad.  And the bacon adds heft.  The fact that I’d even refer to a salad as “amazing” is amazing in itself.

Then it was time for Buttermilk Fried Chicken.  Boy oh boy, this did NOT disappoint.  The skin was deep-fried (not pan-fried) to perfect golden crispness.  And the meat was oh so juicy, tender and moist.  Pure perfection.  And at the end of each bite was that little tang of buttermilk that’s so subtle yet so distinctive.  It was fantastic.

It was served with a phenomenal sautéed corn dish with onions, red peppers, corn milk from the husk of the cob, paprika and cayenne pepper for a real kick.  I loved it.  It was bold yet comforting at the same time and the perfect partner for the chicken.

The other side was a Rancho Gordo black bean and rice dish with veggies and oyster mushrooms.  I am not a huge beans and rice gal, but I could appreciate the dish.  My Husband loved this one.

And the cheese plate…Oh that cheese plate.  I would forgo all desserts for another one of these cheese plates.  It was a Redwood Hill Farm Cameo sheep’s milk cheese that had the texture of a super soft brie, all goey and creamy.  It was topped with red pepper berries and herbs, which gave it a soft kick.  Alongside it was some perfectly toasted Palladin bread and a Cherry and Red Onion Marmalade.  Oh…my…gawd.  Crazy good.  That’s all I can say…crazy good.  This course was absolute perfection.  Probably my favorite of the night.  (Yes, even more than the chicken!)

We finished with what was our least favorite course of the night.  I LOVE cupcakes, so I was a bit disappointed in how dry the Red Velvet with Cream Cheese Frosting was.  And the addition of Verona Chocolate Chips on top was just plain unnecessary.  It actually competed with the frosting’s flavor and texture.  The only highlight of it was the fresh strawberries that were baked right in.  That part of it was delicious.

The other cupcake was a Banana with Caramel Center and Rum Vanilla Frosting.  That one was better, but tasted more like bread than cupcake.  Not the best execution, but still good nonetheless.

The highlight of this dessert, however, was the accompanying Lemon Buttermilk Sorbet.  Again, oh…my…gawd.  It was like lemon cheesecake in ice cream form, but light, delicate and sophisticated.  I’d have that sorbet again in a heartbeat.

And once again, the staff is so professional they make it seem effortless. They aren’t stuffy or intimidating. I’ll admit, I was nervous about bringing the toddler to a Thomas Keller restaurant, but the staff couldn’t have been better. They were fun, didn’t take themselves too seriously, but took pride in their jobs and the food they were serving.

The best thing about Ad Hoc is that there is no element of the dinner that isn’t well thought out, executed to perfection, and given the highest quality ingredients. I love how the menu is so seemingly simple night after night, but so perfectly executed like a symphony. Each course adds something different and yet works with the other courses so perfectly to create a complete and perfect meal.

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