thomas keller’s ad hoc

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



    • spabettie says

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

    • spabettie says

      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). :(

    • spabettie says

      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?

  1. says

    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 😀

  2. says

    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.

    • spabettie says

      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 :)

  3. says

    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!!!

    • spabettie says

      Averie I totally agree – it almost seems like too much? and my stomach is SMALL, I have never been able to eat much at any one time…

      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 didn’t like as much, to save room!

      I am still going to continue to try for French Laundry, though… five hours has a lot of “relax” time, right??

  4. says

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

    • spabettie says

      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! 😀

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

      wineries posts coming soon…

  5. says

    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.

    • spabettie says

      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. 😀

    • spabettie says

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

  6. says

    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!

  7. says

    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!

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