Archive for the ‘Thomas Keller’ Tag

Ad Hoc — Improvisation at its Best   Leave a comment

Ad Hoc began as a temporary restaurant. More than seven years later it remains a dining hot spot in an area rich with popular dinner options. It was created by Thomas Keller, the man behind Bouchon and the French Laundry. Besides the Keller lineage and exceptional food, Ad Hoc has little in common with those restaurants.adhocsalad The menu changes daily, meals are served family style and the eatery is only open five nights a week. Although accommodations are made for dietary needs, the four-course prix fixe menu means few decisions are necessary. A few add-ons are available.adocentree The meal started with Iceberg Wedge Salad saved from ordinariness by the inclusion of lardon. The entrée was far more memorable: Grilled Hanger Steak with brown mushroom sauce, haricot verte, eggplant and butternut squash over Carolina Gold Rice. The latter is worth distinguishing: an aromatic long grain from South Carolina. The vegetables are from the tfl garden – The French Laundry garden. The meat. Ah, the meat was so flavorful just thinking of it would keep me from ever considering vegetarianism. adhocsteak adhoccheese A cheese plate with Cowgirl’s Creamery buttery Mt. Tam, toasted nuts and Marshall Farm honey was a nice segue from entrée to dessert. I’m typically not a fan of bread pudding, but this Caramel Bread Pudding with vanilla ice cream and fresh blueberry sauce made me want to move to Yountville so I could come back for more. Since there’s no way to know what the menu is from one night to another, I’d just have to keep returning until it reappeared. Darn! adhocdessert Ad Hoc
Five Plates
6476 Washington St.
Yountville, Calif.

Chicken Worth its Wait   2 comments


Bouchon Bistro used to only offer fried chicken dinners once a month. Reservations filled within minutes; sometimes it felt like having one wrong lottery number. Now the odds are a little better: the crispy fried chicken in Thomas Keller’s restaurant is served twice monthly.

Although, the regular menu is available, I have to wonder why anyone would consider it. The sides, aren’t always the same, but by all accounts the chicken has a consistently high wow factor. Recently, the meal included fork-crushed potatoes, pole bean salad and Parker House rolls. The chicken is the star of the night. Plump from soaking in a lemon/herb brine for more than 12 hours, it’s deep-fried for a coating that shatters as soon as it meets your lips.bouchonchix

(Keller has numerous dining establishments. He’s authored several cookbooks, including Ad Hoc at Home featuring the fried chicken recipe. The description of the process and lengthy list of ingredients intrigued me, so last winter I tried it. It was good to know that, with fortitude and lots of time, the chicken can be made at home very close to what Bouchon serves. Keller also edits Finesse, a beautifully-designed magazine with articles celebrating the beauty of kitchens: design, cooking, gadgets and techniques.)


Back to that chicken, it’s juicy on the inside and crunchy on the outside for the perfect combination of texture and taste: buttermilk, rosemary and thyme. The bean salad in bacon vinaigrette, although flavorful, wasn’t as stellar as the creamy potatoes and rolls; even with a chicken-only meal I’d feel like a winner.

Bouchon Bistro
Five Plates
235 North Canon Dr.
Beverly Hills, Calif.