Saturday night, after one crushed pearl facial and an epic shower consisting of 15+ high-powered jets coming at you from every direction, lemongrass oil and ginger body scrub, the well primped ladies of GRR arrived for their 8:30pm dinner reservation. Basically imagine the scene from Sex and the City of the girls walking in sync down a busy New York street in 4 inch Manolos. Except we were in Yountville, CA which totals all of 3 blocks and the shoes were JCrew.
Ad Hoc refers to “impromptu” or “spur of the moment”, in restaurant terms that means whatever the chef feels like cooking. The menu will always allude to family style cuisine vs. the high-end french food served up at French Laundry down the street. The menu changes every night offering 4 pre-fixed courses for $49 + $39 if you choose to have wine paired with each course, which we did not. The very attentive waitstaff wear black bowling shirts and chuck taylors, except for a one particularly elegant man, Nick, who appears very confident in pastels and checks up on your table after each course.
First Course: citrus salad with grapefruit and blood orange, fennel ribbons and candied hazelnuts
Consensus – refreshing and light, Ramya was not in love with the fennel, everyone was in love with the candied hazelnuts.
Supplemental Course for an extra $14: If Thomas Keller offers you a supplemental course you say “yes please” no questions asked. Stuffed shrimp peppers with squid. We opted for one supplemental course split four ways. Have you ever tried to split squid four ways? Yeah I don’t recommend it.
Entree Course: roasted lamb with swiss chard, some crazy good breadcrumbs, some other crazy good cream sauce. Served with a side of mashed sweet potatoes with a heap of butter melting into the bowl.
Consensus – perfectly cooked, loved that it was served in an all-clad stainless steel pan. The sweet potatoes gave me a warm fuzzy feeling like the first time I saw Jacob racing through a foggy national forest in cutoff jorts. Similar to a dream I had last night.
Cheese Course: pantaleo that was aged ten years and was delicious – the accompanying chutney was enjoyed by all, while the celery was a miss for a few of the ladies at the table.
Dessert Course: warm apple pie tartlets with caramel sauce and a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream – tasted like the Fourth of July with Katy Perry singing “Firework”. Our humble and gracious host Nick paired our final course with a wonderful dessert wine – complimentary after we bonded over such topics as Michelangelo’s David and the birthday song at Applebee’s.
Favorite moments Katie: Nick exchanged my copy of Ad Hoc at Home with one kept in the kitchen signed by Thomas Keller! The book was signed by our waitstaff and the book’s illustrator who designed the restaurant’s pig icon. That alone was worth the high $$$$
Favorite moments Flora: Nick’s periwinkle (lavender – depending on the lighting) sweater, the music which ranged from Stevie Wonder to Katy Perry to Simon & Garfunkel, the amount of times I was thanked for coming in oh and those mashed sweet potatoes…maybe I licked the serving spoon ok? And I’d do it again.
Favorite moments Ramya: When Katie told our waiter Dan that while she was an amateur chef, she was at the “advanced” level of amateur…to which he responded with something like, “Oh, I’m not very advanced but I do make a delicious bouillabaisse…the trick is extracting all of the scallop love.” And he was talking about fish extract, not hearts and sonnets.
Favorite moments Marisha: Obviously my favorite part of the evening was the meat. I didn’t think I was a lamb person but leave it to Tommy (i.e. Thomas Keller) to prove me wrong. Words can not describe how perfectly it was cooked and how happy it made my stomach. Second favorite? Being told I have “amazing lips” by Nick the GM.