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.
6476 Washington St., Yountville, CA 94599