6476 Washington St. Yountville, CA 94599 •adhocrestaurant.com
Much to my chagrin, it would appear that Napa and Thomas Keller aren’t perfect. In fact, my chagrin was downright disappointed, to be quite frank. I mean I get that it’s supposed to be a more casual Keller experience than The Laundry or Per Se, but that doesn’t mean we have to throw the badass with the bathwater. I’ve been to hordes of casual restaurants that crush Ad Hoc, so save the excuses, because unfortunately I can’t eat them.
The mediocrity hits you pretty quick when you enter. The décor feels very much like a casual dining food chain. The drinks at the bar, while good, are all classics with no inventive twists, save the fact that they make some of the ingredients themselves. For example they make their own Pims and their own ginger ale, which made for a pretty tasty Pim’s cup.
The menu, however, also proved to be woefully uninventive and considering it’s fixed, there was no escaping the oncoming train of blah. It started with a basket of bread that tasted no better (or worse) than the stuff you might get at an A&P. And the butter they serve with it is the unsalted crap you use to prime a skillet.
The arugula salad with peaches was simple, but good. And it went very well the wine we had chosen. But, Ad Hoc didn’t make the wine, and the salad is nothing you can’t make at home. Next…
The “paella” was quite the looker, hemorrhaging with shellfish. Unfortunately it wasn’t hemorrhaging with flavor. From the over-cooked mushy rice to the relatively bland mollusks, there was little to like about the dish apart from the chicken, which managed to be pretty moist. But relying on chicken to save a paella is like relying on the parsley garnish to save a rib eye.
Following that came the cheese plate and while neither were bad, neither were amazing either. In fact, the piave we had at a vineyard earlier that day put these to shame. And so did the accouterments. The mustard and the pickled veggies were both better than the cheeses themselves.
And bringing up the rear was a blueberry cake of sorts that only served as the final nail in the coffin. Which is a triumph in defeat, because I am an extremely easy target when it comes to blueberries and yet they whiffed it.
Such a let down. I almost want to give it one knife due to the hype factor, but to be fair, nothing was bad. It just wasn’t good either. And in Napa, restaurants should be held to a higher standard.