addendum at ad hoc - Yountville, CA

Lunch - Saturday, July 16, 2011

Thomas Keller has literally infiltrated every level of cuisine, from the ultra high-end (The French Laundry), to mid-level dining (Bouchon), to family-style dinners (ad hoc), and now take-out (addendum). Perhaps it is only a matter of time before he invades the local supermarket's frozen food department? Of course I jest, but it is fascinating to see how he has made his mark along each step of the rung. No place showcases this more than the town of Yountville, where Keller's establishments are incubated and where they naturally flourish.

addendum is a brilliant way to bring Keller to the masses, giving the customer a taste of one of America's most celebrated chefs for the lowly price of $16.50. It only serves lunch 3 days a week, and the food is parceled out on a first-come-first-serve basis, typically running out well before their stated closing time of 2.30 pm. On a hot Saturday afternoon, we decided to brave the legions and make a stop for a quick picnic lunch of fried chicken and barbecue.

Halfway up from Sonoma, I was alerted to a tweet from addendum's account: "A new record... 100 orders in 15 minutes!!! Still going strong". Fearing the worst, we double-timed it to Yountville. Remarkably, our concerns were unjustified, and the wait was minimal, as evidenced from the picture below (I suppose we were lucky enough to just miss the hungry throng).

addendum at ad hoc
addendum only serves two lunch items: ad hoc's famous fried chicken, and a small variety of equally popular barbecue. Each main comes with two sides, which change at the kitchen's whim.

Buttermilk fried chicken, ad hoc-style BBQ
Honey cornbread, sweet corn succotash, potato salad
What else can be said about the buttermilk fried chicken, that hasn't already been put to words? It was perfect - a light, crispy, crunchy shell ensconcing plump flesh. The chicken was heady with aromas of rosemary and thyme, and the lemon brine kept the meat unbelievably moist. Truly a masterpiece.

The barbecued items today were baby back ribs and pulled pork, each in very different sauces. The six ribs were meaty and smoky, and (importantly) not over-sauced. The pulled pork (which seemed more chopped than pulled) was sweeter, with some spiciness for good measure. Both were excellent. It pains me to think that many purported barbecue specialists charge nearly as much for vastly inferior products - goopy, gummy messes passing for real meat.

addendum ran out of fried chicken shortly after we ordered, and had also run out of BBQ by the time we were enjoying our lunch on the cool grass lawn... talk about good timing! The garden behind ad hoc was a great setting for a quiet picnic lunch. Now... all Thomas needs to do is start franchising addendum, and everything will be right with the world. Until then, we'll have to settle for this one location, still (mostly) hidden from the ravaging horde of Wine Country tourists.

addendum at ad hoc
6476 Washington St.
Yountville, CA 94599
Phone: (707) 944-2487