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Ad Hoc

A restaurant opened by Thomas Keller iin Yountville, California.

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More Than Just a Temporary Relief From Hunger

  • Jan 3, 2010
Rating:
+4
When I first found out about Ad Hoc shortly after it opened in late 2006, I bookmarked it and labeled it "Thomas Keller's 'budget gourmet' restaurant" with the intention of trying it very soon.  Not only was this the one Thomas Keller restaurant that then-teenage me could actually afford to check out, but word on the street was that Ad Hoc was just a temporary restaurant, and that Thomas Keller planned on remodeling it in early 2007, converting it into either a burger, sushi, or steak joint.

I never made it out to Ad Hoc in 2006 :x

Lucky for me (and everyone else!), though, Thomas Keller decided to keep Ad Hoc around permanently due to the positive response received!  When my friend Kyrus invited me to Ad Hoc for my birthday brunch a couple of weeks ago, my answer was an instantaneous "YES!".  By the way, if you don't already know all about my love affair with Thomas Keller foods, check out my French Laundry review.

Concept and Atmosphere

Though this may be a Thomas Keller restaurant, it's completely different than his other projects.  The others have obvious European influences and are more pricey and higher end, while Ad Hoc is more of a laidback, yet hip, American comfort food restaurant.  Think soul food.  And think of it as Thomas Keller's fun side project.

There's no need to get too dressed up for Ad Hoc.  The staff, donning jeans, sneakers, and button down work shirts, aren't too dressed up, nor is the food, which is served family style.  The latter of which I absolutely love.  Growing up in a traditional Chinese household, whether eating in or eating out meant eating family style 99.999% of the time, so there's something comforting, yet refreshing about experiencing this at an American restaurant, where I rarely ever experience food being served family style.  It's just overall casual and relaxing.

Reservations
It's not hard to get a seat at Ad Hoc at all.  Walk ins are fine, though it's always recommended to make reservations just to be sure.  We made reservations for brunch on OpenTable just a few days prior and requested a window seat (so that I can get natural lighting for my photographs!) and got it.  We were seated at a table where we both got our own window so that, according to our hostess, we didn't "have to fight over the window" :D

Menu and Pricing
Five nights of the week, Ad Hoc serves dinner, and on Sundays, brunch is also served.  On alternate Monday nights, their infamous fried chicken dinners are served.  Both brunch and dinner have prix fixe menus, with dinner consisting of an appetizer, entree, cheese dish, and dessert for $49 per person, while brunch is the same set up, minus the cheese dish for $34.  Plus, there's the extensive wine list, of course.  They're extremely accomodating to different diets and food allergies.  For instance, they can accommodate to vegetarian and pescatarian diets, and lactose intolerance.  I wouldn't suggest that a vegan go here, though.

One very random thing that I love about Ad Hoc is that their menus are presented in manila folders with an Ad Hoc sticker on the tab, printed in courier font (like Lunch's logo!), with the slogan "temporary relief from hunger" printed underneath.  This is actually where the headline for my review comes from, because as you'll see from my pictures below, there's nothing small about their portions (for a Thomas Keller restaurant, at least!), nor light about their food.  People are usually really surprised at how much I can eat considering my petite size, but at Ad Hoc, I got all girly and had to give about half of my portion to my date.  This stuff is very rich and filling!

Food
In true Devora fashion, of course there's gotta be pictures in my food review!  These are all pretty simple, ordinary American foods, but with a Thomas Keller twist to it.  Take a look at a sampling of their brunch menu:








Winter Fruits
Sliced pear and persimmon.

 

 









Housemade Quickbreads
Banana-pecan bread with fig cream cheese and winter squash muffins with maldon butter.












Grit Cakes
Anson Mills grit cakes atop swiss chards from the French Laundry garden.



 









Scrambled Eggs
Scrambled Chino Farms hen eggs with tomato conserva.

 











Skirt Steak
Angus beef skirt steak with tomato conserva.

 




 







My own little plate of a little of everything!


 

 










Salted Butterscotch Pudding
With snickerdoodles!














Winter Fruit Sangria

To wash it all down!



 













 














 

























Birthday brunch success!

Should you ever find yourself around the San Francisco Bay Area, this is definitely worth the drive to check out.  Located on Washington St right off of Highway 29 in quaint Yountville, it's on the same street as a couple of Thomas Keller's other restaurants, French Laundry and Bouchon, plus a slew of other great ones. 

Whenever people talk about wanting to try out French Laundry, but not wanting to fork over several hundred plus dollars for it, I always refer them to Ad Hoc.  Now, Ad Hoc is by no means a replacement for the French Laundry experience since they're two completely different restaurants, but it's definitely a great alternative.  Heck, I say try both if you can!

French Laundry, check. 
Ad Hoc, check. 
Per Se, here I come! :D
There's Nothing Temporary About This Relief!

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September 22, 2011
Great food and pictures abound !
 
January 07, 2010
Never been there, but you made me hungry....enticing review yummmmy!!!!
January 07, 2010
My apologies for making your belly growl :P You should try to check out Ad Hoc if you ever visit Napa Valley! :)
 
January 04, 2010
AD HOC is indeed so cool! Some pix aren't showing up on my end tho. Glad you're back to food/restaurant reviews, Devora! so how about them tips in writing restaurant reviews? We went to Slanted Door two weeks ago and I could only manage a micro review. I was just so busy enjoying the food and fun.
January 04, 2010
Ooooh, which pics aren't showing up on your end? I may have accidentally added a few pics with links that only I can see! Those few sections that I bolded up there are good places to start, like thinking about concept, ambiance, reservation, service, taste, presentation, etc. Taking pictures is part of enjoying the dining experience for me, but I know what you mean. Thanks for your comment, Woo! :)
January 05, 2010
the pudding and the sangria are not showing up on my end. There's also a huge space between your last pic before "BDAY Brunch success". what'cha got there?
January 07, 2010
So strange! I sent in feedback about this and we'll see if we can get to the bottom of this. Thanks for the heads up, Woo!
 
January 04, 2010
I'll leave French Laundry to JR, this shall be your treat if I'm around Frisco! Lol...
January 04, 2010
Haha, we shall see! ;P
 
January 03, 2010
Great pics...I guess i have been introduced to "true devora style" for restaurant reviews. Sorry I didn't have any pics for my Sarajevska Pivara review!
January 04, 2010
Thanks, John.  It's never too late to start taking pictures of your food :P  My French Laundry review was the one that started it all for me!
 
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About the reviewer
devora ()
Ranked #1
When I'm not Lunching, I'm a jeweler, and an all around, self-proclaimed web geek. My passions include social media, the interweb, technology, writing, yoga, fitness, photography, jewelry, fashion, … more
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About this restaurant

Wiki

Ad Hoc is a comfort food restaurant, with meals served family-style, in Yountville, California, opened in the fall of 2006.

The proprietor is top chef Thomas Keller, who is one of only three chefs in the world to have two restaurants earning three Michelin stars, the nearby French Laundry (also in Yountville) and per se in New York City.
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Cuisine: American
Attire: Casual

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