According to Wikipedia, Ad hoc is a Latin phrase meaning "for this." It generally signifies a solution designed for a specific problem or task, non-generalizable, and not intended to be able to be adapted to other purposes. However, when I think about Ad Hoc, I think Thomas Keller and a original thought to have a temporary restaurant.
The idea was uncomplicated – serve a four course family style meal that changed daily and the concept would be repeated 5 times a week. Keller also created a space that was evocative of home. His concept for the restaurant was something entirely different that how it stands today. The reason it never transpired into the original notion was 100% due to the positive response from the customers. In September of 2007, Keller decided to keep with the current theme and now serves dinner five nights a week along with Sunday Brunch.
Last weekend, Restaurant Club hit the open road for Yountville to Ad Hoc. I was elated that it was my turn to choose our dining destination and Ad Hoc has been on my list for quite sometime. When I first perused the Ad Hoc cookbook, I knew I was fated to dine at this popular foodie destination.
We decided to check out the Sunday Brunch versus dinner. Immediately when I walked in, the warm ambiance and light shining through the windows, gave a feeling of being in someone’s home. For this Sunday brunch, we were in one of Thomas Keller’s home – not really, but fun to imagine.
The menu changes daily and is essentially prefix style. A manila file folder is handed to you with the tab label adorning the Ad Hoc name. You open it up and the signature pig is at the top with the date. Below is the carefully picked menu which makes your mouth water as you read down and anticipate being delivered to your table.
For June 26th, the brunch menu started with a Sunday Sangria. It was not you’re your typical Sangria. I detected bitters among the sparkling wine and fruit. It was quite tasty.
Our first course was served in a beautiful blue cast iron pan and set down in the middle of the table for us to gaze at for a moment. Quickly we divided among the three of us. It was a Garden Red Leaf Salad with House-made Quick Breads. The salad was simple yet full of flavor and had pine nuts, red radishes and lemon vinaigrette. The quick breads were one of the highlights for me – especially the zucchini bread. The texture was light and airy – the only issue was that it was gone so quickly. The other quick bread was a strawberry muffin that just melted in your mouth.
The main course was staggered just enough that you could enjoy great conversation and people watching. Our waiter was incredibly friendly and knowledgeable. You could certainly sense that he loved his job and the entire Ad Hoc environment. He delivered an all-clad looking pan with the main event – Skirt Steak and Eggs. My eyes were captivated by looking at the sunny up hen eggs on palladin toast, roasted marble potatoes, English peas with bacon crumbles and crème Fraiche on the Skirt Steak.
By now, my stomach is quite satisfied yet the feast continues with dessert – Peaches and Cream. This dessert goes beyond the traditional peaches and cream. They are locally grown peaches from K & J Orchards with whipped chantilly cream along with shortbread cookies. The pièce de résistance was the hand crafted caramel sauce that you could drizzle on the shortbread or peaches.
Overall, I would highly recommend Ad Hoc for outstanding food and service. It was a perfect foodie day – fabulous friends, delicious food and wonderful weather all wrapped into a few hours on a Sunday.