thomas keller’s ad hoc

by Kristina Sloggett

in Dinner, restaurants

One of the places we had dinner reservations for in Napa was Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc. We will continue to try for reservations at French Laundry, but this was a last minute vacation and you need at couple months advance to be lucky enough to snag a reservation.

We were incredibly pleased with our dinner at Ad Hoc – a four course family style menu that changes daily.

Ad Hoc means “for this purpose”, aptly named as they had very different plans for the restaurant originally. As they were building it, they opened on a temporary and experimental basis with the set courses served family style. Being so extremely popular, it was decided not to mess with a good thing.

A good thing it is, indeed.

Salad of Living Butter Lettuce

toasted walnuts, asian pears
shaved red onions, flambeau radishes
celery branch, celeriac dressing

Butter lettuce is one of my favorites for an ideal salad – and this was! I could have enjoyed this entire serving myself, possibly another. Simply perfect.

Mussels with chorizo, sofrito butter

This course was an optional addition, and Jason chose to include it. I am adventurous and will try everything, but I wasn’t much a fan. I dipped a piece of bread into the broth – amazing and aromatic. Loved that!

Snake River Farm’s Grilled Flank Steak

fingerling potatoes
haricots verts in mushroom cream
poached king trumpets, fried shallots
tfl garden green garlic

Again, I try everything. The flank steak was flavorful, perfectly seasoned and tender. The fingerling potatoes and poached trumpets were perfect – crunchy golden potatoes and substantial mushrooms – very umami!

The haricots verts were also delicious, I think I ate most of them.


apple butter
palladin toast

The cheese course was one of my favorites. Patacabra is a Spanish goat cheese, and I love goat cheese! This was rich and creamy and it paired perfectly with the sweet of the apple butter and the crunchy toasts.

I will be looking for patacabra…

Double espressos – you know it is time for dessert!

Cinnamon Beignets

coconut tapioca, chocolate sauce

Pillowy soft with a cinnamon sugar crunch, this dessert was sublime. Serving it with creamy dreamy tapioca is genius, and the chocolate sauce completes the perfection.

A perfect end to a stunning and satisfying meal. Service was friendly and efficient, and while the atmosphere was lively, we had a relaxing and quiet dinner.

We will keep trying for that elusive French Laundry reservation, and we will also return to Ad Hoc.

Ad Hoc on Urbanspoon


{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Alayna @ Thyme Bombe May 31, 2011 at 5:40 am

Awesome dinner! I’d love to get to eat at Ad Hoc someday, let alone the French Laundry.


2 spabettie May 31, 2011 at 10:14 am

ad hoc was delicious food and a great experience overall. we will keep trying to get French Laundry reservations… :)


3 Jessica @ Dairy Free Betty May 31, 2011 at 6:02 am

wow… amazing!!

I kept reading it thinking – I couldn’t have eaten any of that :( but I definitely wish that I could!! :)


4 spabettie May 31, 2011 at 10:18 am

aw! I know, it’s definitely not my average day of eating. I am an enjoyer of food at heart, and am always open to trying everything, it was wonderful!

(I know what you mean, though… for allergy reasons you couldn’t enjoy). :(


5 Holly @ The Runny Egg May 31, 2011 at 6:07 am

What a beautiful dinner!

I love the sign too: “for temporary relief from hunger” — that is awesome.


6 spabettie May 31, 2011 at 10:18 am

I loved that too! :)


7 Leanne @ Healthful Pursuit May 31, 2011 at 6:49 am

Wow. Everything looks SO amazing. I don’t even know what to say. Other than… I’ve never had butter lettuce. What the heck? I need to figure out where to get some because it looks darn delicious!


8 spabettie May 31, 2011 at 10:19 am

Mmm, butter lettuce – you need to find some! :) I usually find it RIGHT next to the iceberg heads, but the butter lettuce is usually in a container, attached to roots. I hope you can find it, shouldn’t be that obscure?


9 natalie (the sweets life) May 31, 2011 at 7:49 am

what a meal! my dream is to go there someday!


10 spabettie May 31, 2011 at 10:20 am

ours too – we love Thomas Keller.


11 Allie May 31, 2011 at 8:05 am

Mm, all that food looks delicious! The salad is beautiful. Although I think I’d be happy if I could just have a few of those cinnamon beignets ๐Ÿ˜€


12 spabettie May 31, 2011 at 10:20 am

I know, I think my two favorites were the salad and the beignets!


13 Natalie @ Will Jog For Food May 31, 2011 at 8:45 am

So jealous! I wanted to go there when I was in Napa a few years ago but my wimpy friend didn’t want to go anywhere without a menu. Another friend of mine ate at French Laundry on his honeymoon and said it was the best food experience he ever had.


14 spabettie May 31, 2011 at 10:22 am

oh, that’s too bad – I like to dine out with adventurous eaters! :)

I really want to go to French Laundry! it sounds simply amazing.

I hope you get to enjoy sometime :)


15 Averie (LoveVeggiesandYoga) May 31, 2011 at 10:06 am

Butter lettuce is one of my favorites for an ideal salad = me too!

then the desserts, Cinnamon Beignets
coconut tapioca, chocolate sauce
with espresso

the champagne
and cheese and apple butter


i have wanted to go to the french laundry and just yesterday! was reading a girls blog post about it. 5 hrs, 17 courses. the meal to end all

honestly, i think what you did was BETTER. as with wine tasting, after 5 courses/rounds, i think things blur. plus my stomach is still only the size of my fist. I dont think I could enjoy 17 courses.

but with t keller food, one could always try.

wow, love this post!!!


16 spabettie May 31, 2011 at 10:26 am

Averie I totally agree โ€“ it almost seems like too much? and my stomach is SMALL, I have never been able to eat much at any one timeโ€ฆ

there have been course meals in the past that I was able to get through, smaller portions. other meals I have paced myself, having only a couple bites of a salad or an aspect I didnโ€™t like as much, to save room!

I am still going to continue to try for French Laundry, thoughโ€ฆ five hours has a lot of โ€œrelaxโ€ time, right??


17 suki May 31, 2011 at 10:33 am

I still haven’t been! :)


18 spabettie May 31, 2011 at 8:11 pm

it was SO good, I hope you can get there soon!


19 Jess May 31, 2011 at 10:51 am

I’m drooling. This looks incredible. The mussels, bibb lettuce salad and cheese course would have been my favorite!! YUMMMMMM.


20 spabettie May 31, 2011 at 8:12 pm

Jason and I are still talking about that salad. I’m still thinking about that cheese. I’m plotting how I can make a gluten free Beignet! ๐Ÿ˜€

and replying to you right now, I realized I didn’t include all the wine photos!

wineries posts coming soon…


21 Dorry May 31, 2011 at 11:22 am

OMG the cinnamon beignets. be still my heart. what a meal! Billy would have gone crazy for the mussels and flank steak – 2 of his favorites.


22 spabettie May 31, 2011 at 8:13 pm

I know, the Beignets! they were amazing pillows of happiness. yep – I tasted the steak and it was very good – Jason was pretty much in HEAVEN. ๐Ÿ˜€


23 Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) May 31, 2011 at 12:25 pm

This looks like an amazing meal! I LOVE butter lettuce. It is so fluffy and sweet. Those doughnuts…oh my! I need those in my life!


24 spabettie May 31, 2011 at 8:18 pm

yes – fluffy is a great descriptor! I’m writing / about to test a gf version of the Beignets… hopefully I can come close! ๐Ÿ˜€


25 Amy B @ Second City Randomness May 31, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Butter lettuce is by far my favorite mix for salads! I always alternate between that and spinach… gotta keep it fresh! (yes, pun intended)


26 spabettie May 31, 2011 at 8:18 pm

haaaa – keepin’ it fresh, indeed! ๐Ÿ˜€


27 Tiff @ Love, Sweat, and Beers May 31, 2011 at 1:38 pm

I am hardcore wanting that pantacabra and flank steak. Beef, it’s still what’s for dinner!


28 spabettie May 31, 2011 at 8:19 pm

it was that night! ๐Ÿ˜€


29 Heather (Where's the Beach) May 31, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Ok, so when I finally get to Napa, can you please plan out my itinerary???


30 spabettie May 31, 2011 at 8:20 pm

yes – or I could be your tour guide!

(hope you’re having a FAB time on YOUR vacation!)


31 Kath (My Funny Little Life) May 31, 2011 at 2:07 pm

What a wonderful dinner! And the restaurant looks so cool – I especially loved (not laughed! :D) the sign: “for temporary relief from hunger”. ๐Ÿ˜€ And the pork pic – well, that one made me laugh. ๐Ÿ˜‰


32 spabettie May 31, 2011 at 8:21 pm

I liked the pork one too! almost as good as the Funny Sushi Guy… ๐Ÿ˜€


33 Roz May 31, 2011 at 2:39 pm

What an incredible meal! Thanks for sharing these great photos with us!!


34 spabettie May 31, 2011 at 8:36 pm

you are welcome! thank YOU for reading, Roz!


35 Lisa May 31, 2011 at 6:21 pm

Everything looks amazing….but I have to say if I had to choose one thing from your pics, I’d eat the salad. I love butter lettuce, and that salad looks amazing!


36 spabettie May 31, 2011 at 8:37 pm

the salad was amazing – we are still talking about it.


37 Jenn@slim-shoppin May 31, 2011 at 8:18 pm

What a great review! The food is amazing. I remember a long time ago when my husband and I went to New Orleans on a whim so of course all the most popular restaurants were taken. Our concierge at the hotel said we could go to Emeril’s at 9:00 p.m. and my husband and I were without kids so we were like OK! We’ll take it! :)

It was a great dinner though no matter what the time!


38 spabettie May 31, 2011 at 8:39 pm

thanks, Jenn!

oooh, nice! I would LOVE to hear about that dinner sometime!


39 Will December 27, 2011 at 8:32 am

this is the only TK resto I have not been – next time, for sure!


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