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Fried Chicken at Ad Hoc

My favorite food in the world is fried chicken, and since moving to the Bay Area three years ago I've been sorely disappointed in my quest to find a replacement for my much-beloved chicken shack in upstate New York.

I'd read numerous positive reports about chicken night at Ad Hoc, especially the tantalizing report of Morton the Mousse, and finally made the trip last night.

The menu of the day was...

Salad of mixed baby greens with iberico ham, pickled vegetables, roasted red beets, julienne endive and sweet pepper vinaigrette

Buttermilk fried chicken with green beans in a mushroom cream sauce and yukon potato pave

Redwood Hill Farm's Crottin with satsuma mandarin jam and buttered toast

Pecan bourbon tart

We started off with a sliced bread from Bouchon, both white and a wheat. I tried a little bit and enjoyed the crust, but who's kidding who? I was there for chicken and didn't want to waste any real estate on bread.

The salad was delectable, very similar to the one I tried there during a visit three or four months ago. I loved the pickled vegetables and only wished there were a bit more ham.

The star of the show, buttermilk chicken, arrived at the same time as the haricots verts with a mushroom cream sauce and potato pave. I could not believe the amount of chicken they supplied for our table of three; probably I should have counted the pieces, but instead I dove in for a drumstick before my fellow diners could nab one. Someone else did likewise and one unlucky pal was left stick-less. It's a credit to our friendship that no blood was spilled.

And the verdict? The chicken was delicious, by far the best I've had in the Bay Area. The crust was expert, quite thick, crisp but not cracker-like, and with a lovely blend of spices--onion powder, garlic powder and rosemary stood out. They fried it in peanut oil, I think. It sounds derogatory to say that it was the second-best fried chicken I've ever had, but my quest has been long, my favorite is long established, and I was honestly stunned by how delicious Ad Hoc was.

The sides...I'm not sure if my appreciation was lessened because I was busy with the chicken, but both the potato pave (thinly sliced potato layered into a tall chunk) and mushroom dish seemed overly rich and one-dimensional. I would have appreciated some other touch of the palate to cut the very rich, very fatty hit of chicken--an interesting take on cole slaw would have been nice. Amazingly, we ate all the chicken; I took only two bites of the potato pave and we had more than half of the mushroom dish left.

Then there were two more courses. By this point I was half-slumped, drowsy, and relegated to breathing out of my mouth. The piquancy of the mandarin jam served with the cheese was nice, but I wasn't able to get through much of the crottin or any of the bread.

Next up was the pecan bourbon tart. Luckily we had grown second stomachs for dessert by this point, because the tart was great--a flaky crust, lovely pecans without too much sweetness, and pillowy whipped cream infused with vanilla.

Total bill, with two beers and a glass of wine, was a little over $200, and well worth it. I can't wait to return.

Of note: I thought fried chicken was served every Monday, but it turns out that it's every other Monday. For the past three weeks they've served it every Monday, according to my server, because so many people drove a distance and were disappointed that it wasn't chicken night.

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Ad Hoc
6476 Washington St., Yountville, CA 94599

 
 
 
 
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  1. Great report. Love that fried chicken. Wish I could afford it more often, but T-Rex serves as a decent substitute at 1/3 the price. FYI - you can order seconds free of charge and take them home with you. My server told me people often ask for thirds.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Morton the Mousse

      From Ad Hoc or T-Rex (or is that a stupid question..)?

        1. re: chemchef

          Ad Hoc is always all-you-can-eat. How anyone could eat more than one portion is beyond my comprehension.

          1. re: Morton the Mousse

            You can always eat more...you just pay for it later. Once there they offered another serving of tri-tip and we asked for half order...that was about right for 6 people. More however would have been pushing it.

      1. I'm curious how you planned your dinner on the night fried chicken was served? Did you check every night and then went when you heard it was chicken? Or did you just make a reservation and was pleasantly surprised when it was chicken? I'm always curious how people plan dinners at a place where it's a fixed chef's menu.

        2 Replies
        1. re: singleguychef

          "Of note: I thought fried chicken was served every Monday, but it turns out that it's every other Monday. For the past three weeks they've served it every Monday, according to my server, because so many people drove a distance and were disappointed that it wasn't chicken night."

          1. re: xanadude

            thanks, read over that to get to the photos :)

        2. Fantastic report and delectable photos of the chicken. We've tried eating at Ad Hoc on each of our last three visits to Yountville, but we keep getting sidetracked by our other favorite restaurants in town. It's always a struggle to choose between Bouchon, Jeanty, and Redd and Ad Hoc always gets later billing. I'm not sure when our next trip might be, but if the every-other Monday scenario for fried chicken night is still in play, I might have to plan around that.

          R. Jason Coulston

          1. I can't believe Bouchon and Jeanty take precedence over Ad Hoc!! While we like both of those, Ad Hoc wins hands down. We also love Redd, but it's a whole different animal with NY style food rather than comfort food. We actually like Redd better for lunch since they have a great patio (we do stop there for a martini on our way to Ad Hoc since it's wine/beer only).

            Ad Hoc now serves fried chick every other Monday or Wednesday (once a week on either Monday or Wednesday so once you figure out "which" Monday or Wednesday you can do the math). I think they may be closed Tuesday/Wednesday during the winter so you'll need to check with them on how chick will be handled. We love their salads as well and also the main courses. Regarding the pecan tart - hate it (because it has nuts, not because it's bad). I'm a weekender and they have my profile flagged as "hates nuts in desserts" and they gave me a pound cake last night without nuts (all others had nuts). That tells you how they are about the customer service. Can't speak highly enough about service and value and food. Enjoy!!

            2 Replies
            1. re: teejaymoore

              Jeanty just got major league slammed by Michael Bauer, quite possibly the most negative review of his I have read. Anyone go lately that can agree or disagree with his review?

              1. re: realspear

                I personally don't think it deserved his slam (agree it was one of the worst I've read of his). While I don't think it deserves a Michelin star, I do think there are some good items on the menu and while service is spotty, it's generally friendly. Went at Thanksgiving and stuck to my standbys - the spicy tomato soup and the steak tartare. Both were good. While Bouchon has better food in my opinion, I like the space and crowd at Jeanty better (Bouch crowd always seems like the wannabes who couldn't afford or get into the laundry).

            2. >Total bill, with two beers and a glass of wine, was a little over $200<

              Their website says the price of the dinner was $48, so I'm curious how it got to a little over $200 for (I assume) two people with two beers and one glass of wine.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Mick Ruthven

                > I dove in for a drumstick before my fellow diners could nab one. Someone else did likewise and one unlucky pal was left stick-less. It's a credit to our friendship that no blood was spilled. <

                This indicates 3, tax would be around $15, leaving about $30 for drinks. Was gratuity added in? Edit: remembering my visit earlier that sodas were $4, I assume that the beer & wine did make up the difference and gratuity was not added, just the tax.

                1. re: Mick Ruthven

                  It is $48 per person so by the time you add tip ($20) and alcohol it adds up. We tend to spend around $200 for 2 people with wine, etc. You can also bring a bottle and pay the $20 (I think) corkage which we do quite a bit.

                  1. re: teejaymoore

                    My husband and I spent over $200 after tax and tip for our fried chicken dinner at Ad Hoc in July 2008. Our tab included two chicken dinners, one beer, a half bottle of wine and two coffees.

                    1. re: cvhound

                      That is one whopper of a tag for 2 fried chicken dinners ~ strange to put fried chicken in the special event by cost category! As I said in another post, while I liked the food overall, I would never order all those courses on my own which would let me be closer to what I feel comfortable eating and paying. I know you can eat at the bar and order by course but although I am a fan of bar chow, if I drive up from the Bay Area, I would rather sit at the table and enjoy the atmosphere there with the same pick and choose option.

                      1. re: tomatoaday

                        Don't disagree tomatoaday. I think the reason they do that at Ad Hoc is Yountville real estate is expensive and given how small Ad Hoc is, I think they have to pretty much guarantee a certain level of $$ per table since they don't turn the frequently and they don't serve that late.