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April 22nd, 2008

Ad Hoc Dining

They say Yountville has more Michelin stars per head than any other town in the world. That may be because it's small, but it may also be because Thomas Keller has at least three restaurants in the tiny main street.

The best known is probably The French Laundry, with its 6-month waiting list. Most people will have also heard of Bouchon, his French-style restaurant and bakery. Then there's Ad Hoc. It's a simple place, serving family-style comfort food with a single fixed-price menu. There's one starter, one main course, one cheese, and one dessert. There's also no waiting list, and a good chance you'll get in if you phone for a reservation on the day. It was marypcb's birthday yesterday, and as we were driving towards Napa from the redwoods in the north, we decided to give it a try.

Wow.

It was fried-chicken night, and the menu was built around buttermilk-fried chicken pieces. The meal began with some excellent bread and a walnut, ham, green bean and potato salad, here we savoured every bite. Next came a mound of chicken pieces, covered in a delicious herb batter, and accompanied by macaroni cheese and some of the tastiest spinach I've ever had. We couldn't finish the chicken we had (like most of the people in the restaurant), but boxed up it made a delicious lunch today! The cheese was Promontory, a rather tasty little number served with almonds and strawberry preserve. Finally we rounded off the meal with a warm chocolate brownie with caramel sauce and vanilla cream.

The verdict?

Well worth it! It's not often you get to eat food this good for this little.