We have been going up to Yountville for years. It's a small town in the Napa Valley, about an hour north of where we live, most famous for being home to The French Laundry. We almost always eat at Bistro Jeanty, a charming French restaurant there that makes us feel like we have escaped to the French countryside (with perfect cassoulet). But Yountville has become a dining mecca, with a series of extraordinarily good restaurants within a few blocks each other.
Besides The French Laundry, Thomas Keller also has Bouchon, a bistro with killer profiteroles, and the Bouchon Bakery, which is like the ones you find in Paris. About 3 or 4 years ago, he opened a temporary restaurant down the street from those three, which he planned to use for testing purposes. That restaurant, called Ad Hoc, remains open to this day. Their motto: "For temporary relief from hunger."
Last night we went up to Yountville with our friends Theresa and Doug, with whom we have shared many wonderful dining experiences, to try out Ad Hoc for the first time. This turned out to be a very good idea. The restaurant is casual and fun. They serve a single prix-fixe dinner five nights a week, four courses for $49. But these were no ordinary courses. Here is the menu from our dinner:
The salad was perfect, simple and delicious, with a wonderful apple vinaigrette dressing. The shortribs were cooked in the sous vide method, for 48 hours, which left them soft and smooth. The highlight of that entree, however, was the pappardelle pasta, better than any pasta the four of us had ever tasted. The cheese course was a very simple cheddar cheese - our waiter said, "there is nothing uncheddar about this cheddar." Just the right description. And the dessert was superb, fabulous ice cream with homemade banana bread.
Ad Hoc is now very high on our list of top-notch Bay area restaurants.