This year we celebrated my birthday with a weekend trip to Napa treating ourselves to a day of wine tasting and an evening at Ad Hoc. Ad Hoc is a family style restaurant serving a fixed four course meal that changes daily. It’s kind of like the casual, more affordable little sister of French Laundry and was originally intended to be a temporary filler while Keller developed a different restaurant that was to go in its place (ad hoc means ‘for this purpose’). It became so popular that it ended up staying and after meeting many locals and visitors during our trip it became clear that it is a huge Napa favorite. Our experience was fantastic. The atmosphere was laid back and fun and the service extremely warm leaving us feeling as comfortable as being over a good friends house for dinner. The food was absolutely delicious and quite the deal for a Thomas Keller meal. We were especially happy that our menu featured just the right amount comfort food that we needed after a whole day of drinking wine, but which was prepared and presented in a clean and sophisticated manner, a combination which is guaranteed to win many people over.
We started the meal with some bread from their Bouchon bakery and a Garden Mixed Salad with fuyu persimmons, prosciutto di san daniel, baby carrots, cerignola black olives and a verjus vinaigrette. I really enjoyed the combination of persimmons with prosciutto, especially their textural similarity as the persimmons were sliced into paper thin sections like the prosciutto. The salad was light and refreshing and a great start.
Next up was the entree, a spiced Hanger steak with mixed marble potatoes, grilled leeks, and roasted roasted porcini mushrooms. I of course was thrilled about the appearance of mushrooms along with the steak, but it was the bone marrow addition which made this a real knockout meal. The marrow was roasted right in the bone and came with a fig mustard and palladin toasts. We ended up scooping out the marrow and spreading it on our steak, which gave it a whole new dimension of flavor and richness. Definitely an unforgettable treat!
The cheese plate was a goat gouda which was also yummy but after the steak and bone marrow all that cheese was a bit much. It was served with haricots verts, sunchoke chips, and a blonde frisee. I thought the sunchoke chips were a clever idea and were the highlight for me.
Finally we ended with a chocolate cake topped with candied almonds and cinnamon ice cream. While this wasn’t the most creative dessert, it was a nice finish and the addition of the cinnamon ice cream made it a bit more exciting. Overall we were extremely happy with our visit and were lucky to be satisfied with everything on the menu. This was easily one of the best meals of the year and we cannot wait to sample the other Thomas Keller restaurants.