On Washington Street in Yountville, you can walk a half-mile and stop at four of celebrity chef Thomas Keller’s restaurants. It’s got to be convenient for Keller when he’s in town and not overseeing his other projects in New York, Beverly Hills and Las Vegas. It was certainly convenient for us.
You may remember The Unfortunate Drunken Mussels Incident from our December 2010 visit. I’ll certainly never forget it, but nearly two years out, it’s just funny to me now. And while we really liked Ad Hoc (and now own the beautiful cookbook,) I think we were a little bit gun-shy to return to that scene.
But leave it to Keller and crew to extract one of the restaurant’s most successful dishes and turn it into an entire venture. Capitalizing on the popularity of Ad Hoc’s twice-monthly fried chicken Mondays, they’ve created Addendum, a boxed-lunch option available Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
For $16.50, you get a choice of entree: buttermilk fried chicken or barbecue (pulled pork and ribs,) honey cornbread and two sides. You place your order at a little hut behind Ad Hoc’s parking lot, take a sign with your name written on it, and a runner brings the food out from the restaurant once it’s ready.
You also may remember the time we spent an entire day working on our own version of the famous Ad Hoc recipe, and the joy we experienced when it came out better than our wildest dreams. Could the “real thing” truly be that amazing?
Three hefty pieces of chicken arrived with wonderfully moist cornbread, a multicolored potato salad in a light creamy dressing and sweet corn succotash on the side. I apologize for the missing photos of those, but as soon as we tore into the chicken, it was all over. An orgiastic event of juicy meat, crisp crust, little sparks of herb and lemon and just the right amount of grease. You’ll understand.
It’s probably one of the best lunch values in the area, excepting In-n-Out Burger. If you’re not ravenous, it’s enough food for two.
About seven hours after our pigout, we were back for more Keller expertise, with reservations at the upscale Bouchon. The French bistro was more relaxed than I’d anticipated, and it fits in with the wine country scene for that reason. Show up in a dress or jeans, and you’re fine either way. (In hindsight, I think Rob is sorry he packed a suit.)
I’ve been on a chicken liver pate kick since trying Grant’s fantastic happy hour version last month, so I had to have it here. Served with strips of toasted baguette, the five-ounce jar could have been a meal alone. But we had more to taste.
Like the roasted chicken, one of Bouchon’s signature dishes. Apparently I hadn’t had enough Keller chicken for one day.
In a pool of rich chicken jus with assorted mushrooms (yes, I ate them) and sweet corn, this was a lighter twist on the classic comfort food, but far from boring. I only wish I could roast a bird to perfection like this.
I might have even liked Rob’s rare leg of lamb dish a little better…
Dessert almost became oysters when I heard our server tell the couple next to us that they had selections from Massachusetts. Turns out they were Sunken Meadow Gems from Island Creek in Duxbury, reinforcing Rob’s attitude that only East Coast oysters are worth eating. With the profiteroles en route, we didn’t try any, but now I’m curious.
Our server, lovely, congenial and attentive, told us we were her second couple from Connecticut that night, at that same table. “I don’t know how you deal with those winters,” she said. “I’d think it was just uninhabitable.”
I don’t know, either.