Last night marked the reopening of Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc, the temporary restaurant turned permanent fixture on Yountville's main drag. The restaurant celebrated five years in September, and because Keller had originally intended for it only to last a season or so, the dining room and kitchen were never that well appointed, until now. The refreshed space returns from its winter hiatus with a widened bar area, a new reception area, a new private-dining alcove that seats eighteen, and brand new Viking equipment in an expanded kitchen.
"Thomas finally got to make this the restaurant he's wanted to make it," a server told us the other evening, also pointing to some new lighting, refurbished bathrooms, and a fresh coat of paint.
Keller's intent with the restaurant has consistently been to serve the kind of hearty American fare he loved growing up, like fried chicken and pot roast, but skillfully prepared and with excellent ingredients.The place has been wildly popular ever since it opened in 2006 with both locals and tourists alike, and two years ago it spawned a bestselling cookbook, Ad Hoc at Home.
The menu format remains the same: a daily changing, family-style four-courser, announced via chalkboard and on the restaurant's website. Tonight's menu includes their delicious, excellently grilled Niman Ranch skirt steak, and some caramel-cream-filled chocolate cupcakes with popcorn ice cream.
It should also be noted that Bouchon Bakery reopened after a fire-related remodel last weekend, and they now serve Keller's version of Ho-Ho's, previously only available at the New York locations. Addendum the daytime outpost of Ad Hoc where fried chicken and barbecue can be fetched at lunchtime will not reopen until April 1.