Hoc, in Yountville, initially opened as a temporary concept, a place-holder
restaurant, if you permit. Owner Thomas Keller (of French Laundry fame)
intended to turn it into a first-class Burger Joint, and so he chose a name to
indicate the slap-dash effort to get the doors open.
But something funny – and wonderful – happened in the interim. Ad Hoc became one of the most original, most delicious, most highly traffic’d dining rooms in Napa Valley. It’s become one of my favorite dining spots in the whole valley.
Upon entry – and upon leaving – you must rub the metal pig sculpture on the hostess’ desk for good luck. (Reader alert - Spoiler! The closer you rub the rear of the pig, the more luck you will have!)
The four-course, prix-fixe menu changes daily at Ad Hoc ($49/person) so there is no point in listing specific dishes to look for. (Though there is a degree of menu rotation; locals drool for every other Monday night’s stunning fried chicken.) There are substitutions for allergies but that’s about it. Four courses are served, no questions asked.
Many of the dishes are so good that they are worth a detour from San Jose. We have had organic salads studded with nuts, or fruit, or cheeses of incomparable complexion. They are so good, in fact, that, on occasion, we ask for seconds of salad!
The prime course is protein-based and we have yet to go home hungry, or disappointed. If you want to see what's on tonight's menu, for example, go to http://adhocrestaurant.com/menu.php and sign up to receive a daily emailed menu... it's one of the things I most love finding every day in my inbox; I ruminate over the meal I am missing (if it's one of the nights I am passing up this special restaurant.)
The protein course is followed by an unusual, artisanal cheese course, often served with an artisanal honey or compote.
Then you are into the home stretch, a homemade dessert with seasonal overtones.
This is a bistro tres casuel where you serve yourself from family-style platters brought to the table and where you pour your own wine. Don’t expect waitstaff to top-up emptied glasses; you serve yourself. This is a tasty, and successful, version of home-style cooking - and serving - brought to the restaurant scene.
We love the originality, the food, the service, the ambiance, and the experience. Just remember to pat the pig sculpture on the rump on your way out if you want good luck – which is what you'll need to get a reservation the next time you want to dine here.
Ad Hoc, 6476 Washington St., Yountville, CA. 94599. Tel 707-944-2487.
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In many respects, this series could be called Napaman’s Top 100 Napa Valley Attractions. These are the places I send family and friends, and which I personally endorse as being the Best of the Best of Napa Valley.