My friend Mary and I drove to Yountville last night for dinner at Ad Hoc, which is located in a nondescript beige building, like where you'd find a real estate office in an upscale strip mall. I didn't pay much attention to my surroundings once we got inside, but can say with confidence that the dining room was light and airy and full of murmuring people. There was no salt on the table; the bread was stupendous. The friendly waiter waxed so enthusiastic about the food that he blushed and got flustered. The set menu consisted of:
-a "living butter lettuce" salad. Mary asked why it was called "living" lettuce and our waiter answered to the effect that the lettuce had been recently living. It was a refreshing salad, quite lively.
-sous vide short ribs. I would kill for this dish. The chunky boneless ribs had the succulence of a braise, but the meat didn't fall apart when you touched it with a fork and none of the flavor had seeped away in a sloppy gravy. I guess thats the magic of sous vide? Worth the price of the whole meal. Now I want a sous vide machine -- and could almost afford one if I hadn't just bought a molded plastic calf hutch. The meat was served with white beans and fat, fresh Brooks cherries. Five stars.
-Sally Jackson goat cheese. Wrapped in grape leaves, this pink-tinged ivory cheese from Washington State was delicate and creamy, but also curiously bland. Neither Mary nor I could understand why this was the cheese.
-buttermilk layer cake. It sure was purty, like a cake from a Mobile church potluck. Or how I imagine such a cake. If you look closely you can see that there was strawberry jam spread between the layers, which didn't taste quite as wonderful as it looked, but who cares? I love that dessert was a layer cake.
Altogether an excellent meal and, at $49, cheaper than Keller's book, which was prominently displayed near the front door. In my opinion, the meal was a better value, even after tax and tip. I've cooked soft shelled crabs and a quail and duck breast out of Ad Hoc at Home in the last few days and have more to report. I didn't realize until I sat down to type this that I was done with Ad Hoc at Home. But I'm done.
Monday morning conversation:
Tipsy: How can you not like cherries?
Husband: Because they have PITS in the middle of them. I think that's reasonable.