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Ad Hoc, Yountville, California

Ad hoc Menu
I’ve heard people refer to Yountville, California as Keller-Ville because renowned Chef Thomas Keller has so many excellent restaurants that dominate the foodie scene in the small Napa Valley town. There are other restaurants there, too, but I know that when I come into town I’m probably heading for The French Laundry, Bouchon or Ad Hoc. Ad Hoc is the most casual of Thomas Keller’s restaurants. It serves one set 3-course menu every night and all of the food is served to each table family-style. It’s a great concept, especially if you’re eating with a large group, because it has a very homestyle feel to it. They change the menu daily and it features seasonal, locally produced ingredients, so you never know what you’re going to get until you arrive (unless you check the website for the updated menu a few hours in advance).

No matter what is on the menu, you can be pretty sure that dinner at Ad Hoc is going to be good – and ours definitely was. Simply prepared with great flavors – what’s not to like? I’m going to dedicate this post to anyone who loves food photos, because there are a lot of them ahead!

Ad Hoc

We started out our meal with a TFL Garden Celery Salad. The TFL Garden stands for The French Laundry Garden, a large garden out behind Thomas Keller’s signature restaurant that supplies much of the fresh produce for not only The French Laundry, but for Ad Hoc. Yes, this means that at least some of the ingredients of the salad were grown mere blocks from where they were prepared and served. The celery reminded me a lot of a waldorf salad in terms of flavor. It had red leaf lettuce, apples, toasted walnuts, celery several ways (one slightly, one thinly sliced), thinly sliced radishes and a celeriac aioli dressing. It was actually surprisingly simple and a great way to start the meal.

TFL Salad

The main course was a barbecue plate, with Santa Maria-style grilled Snake River Farms waygu beef tri tip and baby back pork ribs. Santa Maria style barbecue usually has a dry rub of salt, paprika, garlic and lots of pepper on the meat before it is grilled. The meat was accompanied by a savoy cabbage slaw.

Ad Hoc BBQ

The ribs were very meaty and tender, and although I was very tempted to pick them up and eat right off the bone, the meat easily came off the bones with the touch of a fork.

Ad Hoc Prk Ribs

The waygu was absolutely delicious, with an intensely meaty flavor no doubt from the preparation as well as from the meat itself. I usually like tri tip rare, but I found that the parts of the meat that were slightly more cooked were actually much more tender and just as moist than the center pieces (which were still close to melt-in-your-mouth tender, too).

Snack River Farms Waygu

My favorite part of the tri tip – and I suspect many bbq fans will agree with me – were the burnt ends, which came out at Ad Hoc with a plate of Buttermilk Biscuits and Gravy. The biscuits were delish (and tasted identical to the buttermilk biscuits that I make at home, with a touch of salt on the top!) and the gravy that was made with the tri tip juices was good, as well, but those super-tender, flavorful burnt ends were amazing.

Ad Hoc Biscuits and Burnt Ends

The cheese course featured Central Coast Creamery’s Seascape Goat Cheese with plum jam and sourdough toast. I could easily had done the jam and cheese without the toast here, or with the softer, chewier bread that came out as an appetizer at the start of the meal.

Ad Hoc Cheese Course

Dessert was a Banana Cupcake with a salted caramel filling and a rum buttercream topped with finely chopped, toasted macadamia nuts. I tend to be a tough cupcake critic, but the whole cupcake was very flavorful and moist, with a great overall combination of flavors. I loved the salty-sweet mac nuts on top of the cupcake and could easily have done with even more of them, but the cupcake was great as it stood, too.

Banana Cupcake

Banana Cupcake Innards

The whole meal was excellent. Ad Hoc charges $49 per person and, as I said, the food is brought to the table family style so that everyone can serve themselves and share. The portions are very generous and it’s a good thing that the desserts aren’t huge, or you would never be able to finish. Fortunately, they’ll box up anything you don’t eat for you to take home ( I saw lots of people taking their cupcakes to-go). The only thing I’ll fault the restaurant for is playing overly loud music during service and the fact that I didn’t care for the glare off the mirrored tabletops while I ate, but I would go back next time I’m in Yountville. It’s a generous three course meal with great ingredients, great flavor and very good service.

Ad Hoc Restaurant
Yountville, California

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  • Lauren at KeepItSweet
    February 2, 2011

    We never made it to Ad Hoc when we were out there, but I wish we did! That meal looks delicious and the cupcake looks incredible.

  • Maureen
    February 2, 2011

    I love Yountville.
    I have always wanted to go to The French Laundry.

  • Tammy
    February 2, 2011

    Yummy!! That cupcake looks sooo good!!

  • Dudley J. Mathews
    February 3, 2011

    And — at home is filled with more approachable dishes and its truly suited for the home cook. . Thank you really cant from the — from ad hoc and you know the the idea behind that special atmosphere behind that restaurant which was. We get our inspiration promised it would put them with a card has to offer. . Trust another thing youll notice right away in this cookbook at the love it here.

  • Out of the Kitchen
    February 3, 2011

    We are huge fans of Keller! We love your photos and write-up!

  • Jereen
    February 7, 2011


    My husband and I were at Ad Hoc on the same night. The food was delicious. My favorite was the biscuit and gravy. I agree with all your comments about the food and I, too, thought the music was a little to loud. However, we will eat there anytime we can.

  • Nicole
    February 8, 2011

    Jereen – Wow! What a small world!

  • Ed
    February 10, 2011

    The brunch there is equally amazing.

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