6476 Washington Street
Yountville, CA 94599
Escarole salad; di Stefano burrata, Marcona almonds, Delta
asparagus, red radish, bacon lardon, lemon vinaigrette
Double R Ranch New York strip loin; peas & carrots,
Crispy onion rings; ad hoc A4 sauce
Andante Dairy’s Bel Canto cheese; semolina crackers, rhubarb
Huckleberry clafoutis; vanilla anglaise
2011 Domaine Weinbach Riesling Cuvée Theo
1981 Ridge California Cabernet Sauvignon Napa County
Out of the corner of my eye I spot Chef/Proprietor
Thomas Keller having dinner with friends at a nearby table. It’s always a good sign when the chef
eats his own cooking.
Ad hoc is one of my favorite places in Napa Valley. The food
is always delicious, the service is friendly and the ambience is low key. Each
morning a four-course menu is posted on the website (with an optional fifth
middle course) and that’s it. Simple.
The basic framework is salad, one savory course (two for diners who add
the optional middle course), cheese and dessert, all served family style. Ad hoc’s wine list is small but well chosen.
One of the strong suits is a focus on some of the harder to find, artisan
wineries of Napa Valley and Sonoma such as Arbe Garbe, Failla, Liquid Farm and
Double R Ranch New
York strip loin; peas & carrots, creamy polenta
The escarole salad pretty much disappears off the plate. Ad
hoc’s Double R Ranch New York strip loin is classic American comfort food at
its best. The flavors are deep and bold, while the meat is cooked perfectly.
Seconds are ordered quickly. And the onion rings? Deadly. The huckleberry
clafoutis is acceptable, but I’ve had more satisfying desserts at ad hoc.
I have to admit, Riesling is my secret passion. If there is
one grape I wish I could spend more time with, Riesling is definitely it. Weinbach’s 2011 Cuvée Theo is a
delicious, nuanced white that pairs nicely with the escarole salad. The green
pear, lime and jasmine notes are refreshing, especially after a long day of tasting
2014 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons from barrel.
Paul Draper’s back
label notes for the 1981 Napa County Cabernet Sauvignon
California Cabernet Sauvignon Napa County shows nicely for such a humble
wine. The Napa County can’t match the 1981
Monte Bello or some of Ridge’s best Napa Valley Cabernets, but it is
delicious, fully mature and totally resolved today. Although a bit frayed at the edges, with
hints of brett creeping through, there is good complexity and plenty of
tertiary nuance. The 1981 has certainly aged nicely and probably better than Winemaker Paul Draper imagined it would back in 1983, when
the wine went into bottle.
Readers visiting Napa Valley should not miss ad hoc. Reservations are a must though, as the small dining rooms
are always packed. Locals speak highly of the buttermilk fried chicken that is
served on Mondays, although I have never had it. There’s always next time.
-- Antonio Galloni