|Ad Hoc Menu: Monday, October 25, 2010|
Ad Hoc is actually a restaurant that was never meant to be. Thomas Keller and his staff, as the story goes, began serving up seasonal fixed family-style dinners as a temporary endeavor while he planned for the opening of a gourmet burger joint for the space. But the popularity and attention of this concept caused him to jettison these plans and his ad hoc concept stuck. Dinner, served Thursday-Monday, consists of a seasonally rotating $49 four course pre fix.
When we arrived for our 7:15pm reservation the small street-front dining room was packed, and reservations were a bit backed up. The staff was harried, and getting a drink at the bar was not easy; the bartender was busy tending to the folks eating at the bar (where according to insiders you can order a family style meal for one--if that makes any sense--and share the plentiful portions between two people). It took a good ten minutes before we were acknowledged, but once seated, the experience was soon forgotten, as we were in for a fabulous meal.
Our waiter, a chubby, beer-loving Thomas Keller disciple, was a bit awkward at first, but really knew his stuff. After ensuring we did not have any allergies or alternative food preferences, he knowledgeably helped us select our wine, and later in the meal showed us where in the Encyclopedia-sized Ad Hoc cookbook it details how to make the finest caramel I've ever tasted.
Each of the generously portioned four courses was sublime.
|Ad Hoc: Salad of Little Gems lettuce, cucumbers, olives, poached carrots, and Point Reyes blue cheese dressing|
|Ad Hoc: Pigfest with porchetta, pork loin, jalapeno corn bread, salad of fried sunchokes, watermelon radishes, rapini, and BBQ spaghetti|
|Ad Hoc: Vermont Ayr atop fried potato cakes with pepper jelly|
|Ad Hoc: Apple fritters with caramel sauce|
For the value, I think Ad Hoc is the best casual dining bet in Napa I've yet to find. As long as you are willing to go with the flow, and experience whatever the night's menu holds, you are in for a real treat.