Good morning from Yountville on a beautiful and cool Tuesday. The weather here is just amazing: rising into the 90s in the shank of the afternoon, but cooling down in the evening and dropping into the low 60s overnight. So, imagine us sitting on our private balcony overlooking the beautiful foliage that surrounds the hotel, AAC CPA sipping his coffee and perusing the NY Times as I chat with you.
Our first night in Yountville started in fine fettle with cocktails at the hotel. The four of us were actually here exactly 1 year ago (to the day), and the superb bartender, Sarah, was at her station and ready to mix our Negronis. She uses locally made No. 209 gin, Campari (of course) and Antica Carpano – it’s a very smooth cocktail. Sarah – pro that she is – also chills the glasses, so we enjoyed an icy concoction. It was deeee-licious.
Bartender Sarah at work on our Negronis
The great thing about staying at the Hotel Yountville is that it’s on the main drag – Washington Street – as are all the fine restaurants, most of which are within a 5 minute walk. (French Laundry is another 3 minutes away.) So, after getting our buzz on, we strolled down the street to Ad Hoc – another Thomas Keller inspiration.
Opened in 2006, Ad Hoc is Keller’s casual restaurant open 5 nights a week, featuring a 4-course pre-fixe menu and a extremely well-considered wine list both of which are moderately priced. Every week, fried chicken is featured, either at Sunday brunch or Monday dinner. Luckily for us, it was on the menu last night.
We were warmly greeted on our arrival and seated at exactly the same table we had last year. As soon as we settled in, Ad Hoc’s general manager, Elias Mandilaras, stopped by to welcome us back – what a great touch! Turns out that Elias is from the east coast, too, and he had worked for the BRG Restaurant Group, which owns some of our favorite restaurants in New York. Our evening was off to a great start!
As it was a warm summer night, we decided to go with a light, local Rose to accompany our dinner. It was the perfect choice.
And then the fun began, starting with a crispy iceberg wedge with warm bacon, tomatoes, fresh herbs, and a tangy green goddess dressing. As you’ll see, everything is served family-style, so it’s everyone for him/herself.
The fabulous first course: iceberg wedge
Then we got what we came for: Ad Hoc’s famous fried chicken. Your faithful correspondent almost forgot to take its picture, so here are the remnants:
It was so yummy, but too much to finish
The chicken was accompanied by beautifully al dente Romano beans in a light tomato sauce and the creamiest grits you could imagine. I somehow forgot to take their pix – mea culpa.
And then, thanks to Elias’ generosity, we were treated to a special course not on the menu: the most flavorful bone marrow served with grilled sour dough bread and stone fruit. It was a surprise and it was a real treat. Thanks, Elias!
Our special off the menu extra course, compliments of the house.
Back to the regular menu, although we were fading just a bit, our next course was a cheese course, accompanied by a molasses drop biscuit. It was a perfect combination.
Finally, it was time for something sweet. Bring on the brownie sundae topped with caramel sauce.
The perfect end to the perfect meal.
At that point, there was nothing left to do but to take our very satisfied selves back to our hotel, 5 minutes away. We thanked everyone at the restaurant and made our getaway.
CULINARY TIP: Ad Hoc – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
As we approached the entrance to the hotel, a full moon was peeking from behind some trees.
Is that a gorgeous sight or what?
On the way to our room, we took a stroll by the pool.
Midnight swim, anyone?
And, thus, concluded our first day in the wine country.
As TheCulturedTraveler has been in business for about 9 months now, I get questions about who this person is and how come TCT is never seen. Bowing to the masses, I’m attaching the first (and, possibly, last) photograph for your enjoyment:
TheCulturedTraveler, photo taken on June 20, 2016, Napa, CA