Standing in for the French Laundry and still having other purposes (A review of Ad Hoc in Napa)

Well this is a long overdue post about Napa!  We did not go to the French Laundry as we had planned due to some unforeseen circumstances and I was pretty devastated.  However, some lovely people swooped in and got us a reservation at another Thomas Keller Restaurant, Ad Hoc in a pinch.  

Ad Hoc is more casual and the meals are served family style.  There is a fixed menu, with some add ons (supplements as they call them) and a vegetarian option.  Jen, our trip planner, did her internship while in culinary school at Ad Hoc, so it turned out to be a very special part of the trip for her and for us.  She is also a vegetarian so we got the vegetarian option in addition to the normal main course. The main course was lamb.  Lamb is on my short list of foods I hate (shrimp, scallops, pickles, mayo, salmon, blue cheese and lamb) so I had to be the picky lady and insist we get the supplement of Chicken Katsu.  Then the waiter alerted us that there was a New York strip option instead of lamb.  I jumped at my chance!

In the end I tried the lamb.  I spit it out and said, "ew, that tastes like lamb!"  My friend Laura tried the steak after and could not understand how I could tell such a difference between the two.  I explained the fact that I have a crazy palate.  I can tell when there is a bay leaf in something even if you take it out!  We also were lucky enough to get a kitchen tour at the end of dinner.  It made Jen nostalgic and me regretful that I never went to culinary school.  I know there is still time, but I like my day job and that is why I blog!  

Without further adieu, one of the bright spots on the non vacation, Ad Hoc. Sorry for the dark iPhone pics.

We had drinks at the hotel before.  Check out our Target fashion finds!

Ad Hoc was supposed to be a temporary place but people liked it so much it stayed!
This menu concept hit the lawyer in me a little too close to home!
This was the day we went.

That is all beer in the wall.  Our beer lovers had some and bought some to take home.

Our menu for the evening.  Except the ice cream was different.
Since we were with a celebrity guest, we got an amuse bouche in the form of a cocktail.  It was yummy.  I don't remember what it was.

First course: Sunchoke soup.  This was my least favorite part of the meal (well except for the lamb).  I chalk this up to never having a sunchoke before.  I was not expecting it to be so earthy and burpy.

This warm farro salad was so good!  Farro is my new go to grain these days when I allow a grain.
Here is the lamb.  The lamblovers loved it.
Cauliflower and celery root with pomegranate, I never thought to put that together!

The Chicken Katsu reminded me of my childhood. I need to make this soon.

Don't worry, I had seconds!

Next was the cheese course.  The cheese was good, but the onion marmalade was better!  

Finally the brownie, but with tres leches ice cream not the one advertised. Yum!

Then we toured the kitchen!  Apparently this is a Thomas Keller thing to have a clock like this.

So shiny and new!

Ah one day I will have separate fridges for separate things!
While it was no French Laundry, it was still a great experience.  The service was top notch, the music and lighting really set the mood and the company was unreal.  But,  I will say  that I have had many better meals here in my home town of New Orleans.  We have no Michelin Star restaurants, but that is not our fault.  I am lucky to live in what I think is the best city in the world, but I also think the fact this place is so great spoils me.  The problem with this trip as a whole was that I built it up so much in my head, it was sure to disappoint, even if I didn't lose about 7 grand of stuff before even getting there. I certainly need to do Napa again, but this time I will approach it how I used to approach blind expectations.  

Have you been to Ad hoc? What did you think? Have you ever had a trip where there a difference from what you had in your head to what it was?  Have you been burglarized on vacation?

Happy Cooking!


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