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Jun 4, 2009 11:19 AM

Redd or Ad Hoc?

After studying the comments here, I've made reservations for JoLe and Martini House. I have one dinner slot left and am torn between Redd and Ad Hoc. My leaning toward Ad Hoc is primarily because I've waited too late to get into TFL, but also know it's a very different experience. I'd appreciate any thoughts to help tip the balance. So little time, so much to eat.

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  1. Though they are right next door to each other, Redd and Ad Hoc are totally different. Ad Hoc, with it's single four course fixed price menu, served family style, is very casual. The food is delicious and tends towards comfort food and the day's menu will typically not be known until early afternoon. Redd, on the other hand, is more sophisticated and the food is more upscale. It, too, is delicious. So, I guess it sort of depends on what you are looking for that night. I love them both, fhough, for different reasons.

    18 Replies
    1. re: bobpantzer

      I happen to be in Yountville for a few days and have noticed that Ad Hoc has been closed the last two nights - Tuesday and Wednesday - is that normal for them? We ate at Bottega last night and while it was certainly good the polenta with wild mushroom sauce - (the whole reason I insisted on going, because I loved it years ago at Tra Vigne) was very mediocre and presented in a very silly manner. Why do restaurants have to do "cute" things to food????

      1. re: Mariana in Baja

        Oh NOOOOOO! I made reservations at Bottega for lunch next Friday for the very reason that I saw that the polenta (which I loved at Tra Vigne, too) was on the menu. What should I do? You say that the rest of the meal was good so I guess I'll still go, but should I order the polenta? Why did he screw up a good thing?

        1. re: bobpantzer

          I know, it was so annoying. It was served in a mason jar!!! The polenta was soft not crispy as I recall and it was annoying to scoop it out of the jar. If I was to go back there I would not order it. I also thought the calamari appetizer was mediocre but all the pasta dishes were terrific. The service was very good but I was with people who have connections with some of the staff so that might well have added to our welcome.

          1. re: Mariana in Baja

            Well, I may still order it. Sounds like a goofy presentation and not very diner friendly. I'll let you know my impressions. Thanks, though, for your comments because now I will not go with high expectations.

        2. re: Mariana in Baja

          Ad Hoc has been running a Thursday - Monday schedule for months now. There was some speculation that it was seasonal, but with tourism still down in the valley, I think they'll keep the closed days.

          And Ad Hoc and Redd are totally different experiences. If you pick Ad Hoc because you didn't get in to French Laundry, you'll be disappointed, and Redd is probably a better choice. Ad Hoc is wonderful, though, but in a laid-back, relaxed, wine country way.

          In terms of menus, every other Monday is Fried Chicken, Thursdays have been "steakhouse" style menus. Any other night is a wild card.

          1. re: cyberroo

            FYI, non-fried chicken Mondays are now barbecue nights.

          2. re: Mariana in Baja

            You could try opentable every day to see if there are any tables available at French Laundry if you really want to go there. There are often cancellations so reservations pop up. In this economy, that seems to happen more and more.

            Have a nice trip but please don't call it Cali. It is one of those things where an effort should be used to snuff it out early before it spreads like an out of control fire ... like people calling major highways "THE 101"

            6525 Washington Street Suite A9, Yountville, CA 94599

            1. re: rworange

              "The 101" is a southern California thing.

              1. re: wally

                It has been creeping up this way. I want to slap local tv news people who use it.

                  1. re: wally

                    And even worse it would throw off the rhythm of the song..

                  2. re: rworange

                    Saying "THE 101" is what separates a poseur from a true local. As for "Cali" ... as Sam Fujisaka would say, "Cali" is a city in Colombia! Maybe some people use that in Southern California, but as a third generation Californian, I can assure you it never even occurred to me that "Cali" could be a nickname for California until I started seeing it here! Maybe it's come about because our Governor can't pronounce California correctly, but there's no "ee" sound in Cal-ih-for-nya.

                    I mean, do people from Massachusetts call it "Massy"?

                    As for Boulevard vs. Ame -- they're both excellent, so it really depends on what style of food you're more interested in.

                    1. re: rworange

                      The perceived rivalry among SF folk with LA is one of the things I find humorous about living here. As a transplanted Angeleno I say "the 101". I guess I better not apply for an anchor slot on the local affiliate. ;)

                      1. re: Senor Popusa

                        Yes, perceived being that it's a one-way rivalry. I also call it "the" 101 (it runs through SoCal, too) and would never attempt to pose as a local!

                  3. re: rworange

                    Thanks for the suggestion on TFL; will keep trying. Your posts on the board have been extremely helpful. I'm intrigued by your comments elsewhere on The Dining Room at the Ritz, but think it may be too formal (going to Coi the next night). Would you care to weigh in on Ame vs. Boulevard?

                    1. re: Bluehound

                      Still haven't been to Ame. Boulevard i not my thing, but others like it. Take a look at the reports linked to the place record, especially the report by uhokey who is a fan.

                      I guess for me, the style is similar to restaurants like Zuni and Chez Panisse. I would rather spend my dining bucks at those places.

                      Boulevard Restaurant
                      1 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94105

                      1. re: Bluehound

                        I agree with rwo that boulevard does classic california type food along the lines of Zuni and Chez Panisse. The food was well executed but not terribly novel, and I found the room and service a bit stuffy. I definitely prefer Zuni in that regard.

                        Ame's menu is very different. There are Japanese, French, Italian influences. The dishes tends to be richer (in a French buttery, oily sense) than is typical for Japanese food combined with a strong emphasis on umami. Typical dishes that illustrate this would be Lissa's staff meal, the chawan mushi (the one I remember was studded with uni and lobster), and the cod in shiso broth. I'm not really a fan of the space, which is kind of dramatic-corporate-hotel, because it doesn't really match the food.

                        If you're looking for well done straightforward light food, I would go with boulevard. If you're looking for something more inventive, I would try Ame.

                  4. re: bobpantzer

                    I'd agree with Bob's comment above. They are very different. If you had hoped to try TFL, you will be disappointed by Ad Hoc as it is not in the same league and does not aspire to be fine dining. Simple american food cooked with the best ingredients and served family style.

                    Redd is a much more ambitious restaurant and if that is what you are looking for, I would recommend it.

                  5. Ad Hoc, hands down. I didn't care for Redds food, yawn "fusion", so I am biased. I have been to TFL. Ad Hoc is definitely not a TFL booby prize meal. It feels very "Cali." Nice space, servers in mechanic-type shirts with a bit of snark, basic but still upscale in a casual way. The food is lovely. it is homey, but it is also thoughtful. I didnt feel a rush or any pretension when I have been (4x v. 1x for Redd). If you want an Thomas K. experience with great food in a cool, open environment, Ad Hoc fits the bill. I see you are form the South, this might be a perfect Cali meal for you.

                    1. as everyone says they are totally different. I find Ad Hoc is fine if you want a nice meal esp in a group but are not thinking about focusing on the food. Each time the food's been good but ocasionally pedestrian. Redd always had something that made me think - great combination or unusual ingredient. Have you thought about Ubuntu for something different and unique

                      15 Replies
                      1. re: sonomajom

                        I finally made it to Ad Hoc yesterday, and while we had a lovely evening, I was utterly unimpressed with the food.

                        Potato salad with pistachios and caperberries? The best part was the Heath bowl. Scallops and pork belly was an odd pairing. Not bad, just not anything memorable. Vegetables overcooked. Fluffy handmade couscous--with peas and cherries? (Why? Because?)

                        Cheese was cheese. Raspberry lemon cake was tasteless. Enough so that once my companion mentioned it ("like a Safeway cake"), I stopped eating.

                        The entire menu felt like the idea of someone who hadn't bother to put it in his mouth. No reason to combine any of those ingredients from the perspective of what they tasted like.

                        Service was warm, friendly, and distracted. Coffee and bread came late. For $80 a head including several glasses of wine, tax, and tip, we could have eaten something much better. (And with gas and 3 hours of driving, it works out in the neighborhood of La Folie.) Very disappointing, especially considering the deals around town at the moment.

                        "Cali" is almost as wince inducing as "Frisco." Like calling Manhattan "Yorkie."

                        1. re: Windy

                          Just finished a meal at Ad Hoc earlier this evening. Bottom line for me is that it is good, but . . . somewhat overpriced for what we received. I like the idea of the fixed meal and enjoyed eating what the chef put together on this barbeque menu, but portions are relatively smallish. Also, the youngish wait staff tried hard and was enjoyable - but seemed lacking in knowledge. My dinner companion is unable to eat dairy products, so when the wait person asked about food allergies etc. upon seating us we felt encouraged. When the salad course was brought to the table, complete with two deviled egg halves, my partner was cautioned by the 20-something waiter not to consume the egg, as it was "dairy". Upon questioning the senior 30-something waiter, the filling only contained mayonnaise as a base - no dairy in the mix. Later with the main course, pieces of corn on the cob were delivered and described as being covered in butter - no warning issued with this . . . the waiter quickly brought some unadorned corn to the table when we pointed out that the butter would be a problem. We were there at 6 pm on a Monday evening, so the place was not exactly packed . . . would expect more attention to detail in a place which has a reputation of knowing it's way around food . . . There was a good effort made to substitute the dessert for my friend - he had a really wonderful fruit granita in lieu of the tiny peach cobbler and ice cream. By the way, the coffee, made at the table in a French press was excellent and the bargain of the evening at $3. The bread (from Bouchon Bakery down the street) and lovely soft room temp butter served in it's own little crock was delicious. In summary, I enjoyed the meal, but I don't spend $135 for dinner for 2 (sans wine) all that often. I will probably try something else next time in search of better value and more seasoned wait staff.

                          1. re: vday

                            Ad Hoc link

                            Ad Hoc
                            6476 Washington St., Yountville, CA 94599

                            1. re: vday

                              Just a note on the portion size: you can ask for "seconds." Most people have reported that it's actually too much food.

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                I completely agree with Ruth. The portion size is very, very generous. We went on fried chicken night and ended up giving half of our chicken to our busser who was doing a double at another restaurant that night. I absolutely recommend fried chicken night as you will have the best fried chicken ever - just don't expect haute cuisine - this is family style and fun.

                                Pics here:

                                1. re: lizziee

                                  Last night we were served a small spinach salad, a medium plate of barbeque, a small cheese plate, and my peach cobler was miniscule - about 3 normal bites worth . . . I can appreciate that they use quality ingredients, but I left a little hungry . . . if I had known and if I had felt bold I might have asked for "seconds", but no information in that regard is given to diners. Maybe this should be made clear by the wait staff?

                                  1. re: vday

                                    When I was there a few weeks ago, our server offered seconds, on both the main course and the dessert. We declined, as we had more than enough to eat, but were tempted, especially with the dessert.

                                  2. re: lizziee

                                    I agree too. Portions are not a problem at Ad Hoc. I am confused by the Richter Scale analysis of Ad Hoc. Maybe I have only been when the chef was generous? I have been 4/5 times. Once on Fried Chicken, 2x for Brunch(insanely great) and then dinners, which have never disappointed.

                                    I don't find the food pedestrian or ill conceived or stingy. I have loved it each time for what it is...Strong, well thought out, big, casual, California styled, tasty food. Great ingredients, but if you don't like the idea of a set, comfort food menu, with stellar ingredients, don't go.

                                    1. re: mmerino

                                      mmerino, I chose to go to Ad Hoc because I love the idea of a "set, comfort food menu with stellar ingredients" and think it probably has wide appeal. As I said, I think the food is good. But I think chowhounds should be made aware that the servers may or may not bring them enough to eat and that apparently they will bring you more if you are knowledgeable enough to ask. I wish I had known. I am unaccustomed to asking for more food at a restaurant. Perhaps I missed the point of "family style" and this is implied?

                                      I was a little taken aback at the use of the term "stingy" in reference to my comments - I simply said that I experienced small portions (or even miniscule in the case of the cobbler) and left a little hungry. It wasn't my intent to imply the restaurant has a character flaw . . . Hopefully my reporting of my experience there may help another chowhound in getting enough to eat.

                                      1. re: vday

                                        I am sorry you were sent home hungry. All I can say is I haven't had the problem of enough food there - ever. I didn't know you could order seconds either.
                                        Maybe give them another shot? Maybe it was a bad day?

                                        1. re: mmerino

                                          Like vday, I felt your comments assumed everyone had the same experience as you or shared your liking of ad hoc.

                                          While we didn't leave hungry, the food we had wasn't tasty or interesting enough to warrant the price and drive. I might give a local restaurant with a $25 dinner another chance. But $80 meals don't get a second chance on the possibility they were having a bad day.

                                          This isn't about ad hoc; I'd apply the same standard to any restaurant of that pedigree and at that price point.

                                          1. re: Windy

                                            I think it also makes a huge different if you have a 3 hour drive to go with your dinner. I'm about 20 minutes from Ad Hoc, so it's both more convenient and has less to compete with in my world. I wouldn't drive three hours for anyone's fried chicken, personally!

                                          2. re: mmerino

                                            Thanks mmerino. Maybe if I get hungry enough for a $50 fried chicken dinner:-) I'll bet it is good . . .

                                      2. re: lizziee

                                        Knowing you to have a legit appetite I am impressed that you couldn't finish the portion of chicken.

                                        I was starving and ate my portion and asked for and received seconds. They even asked what parts I wanted. Very gracious too.

                                        1. re: Senor Popusa

                                          loved ad hoc

                                          didn't love fried chicken (the fat between outer layer of breading and meat was very soggy -- should be crispy)

                                          but one must go for any other night