I’d only been to Ad Hoc once, and that was for a brunch some years ago. The brunch was a tiny bit of a disappointment. I thought too many sweet things were served – the meal started with doughnuts and ended with a banana split; the savoury course consisted of ham, eggs and potato rosli. That probably would have more than satisfied and delighted those with a sweet tooth but I’m definitely one who craves the savoury in the mornings. For those not familiar with Ad Hoc, it serves one 4-course meal 5 days a week, a different menu each night, and brunch on Sundays. They are known for their Monday Night Fried Chicken Dinners.
Monday nights have been somewhat out of reach, until Chef Keller finally opened Addendum – literally a tiny shack (albeit a classy one) -- behind Ad Hoc, serving the famous Ad Hoc Fried Chicken from Thursday through Saturday, during lunch hours! We were also blessed with a large group (10+) as we were able (required, in fact,) to place an order via email 24 hours ahead of time. Addendum keeps it simple with only 3 items on the menu: either Fried Chicken or BBQ, 2 sides included for $16.50, and an optional dessert.
The shack is surrounded by a pretty picnic area - tall walnut trees and a giant redwood throw down large swathes of shade, and on the day we visited, there appeared to be quite a few picnic tables that afforded plentiful seating for small to large groups. You'll picnic next to fledgling fruit trees and Ad Hoc's well-tended vegetable boxes.
Though we had placed our order ahead of time and let them know when to expect us, we actually received a call from the staff when we were running a bit late. And it seemed that they didn't start to assemble our boxes until we reached Addendum. Which was just as well, since we had to bring lunch to another location - William Hill Winery. I feared soggy, cold chicken, but I needn't have worried.
As an aside, the winery and its surroundings are absolutely gorgeous. It's hard to beat Napa in the summertime.
A large group can reserve one of the huge picnic tables in front of the tasting room, in a beautiful arbor area shaded by wisteria trellises. There's a purchase minimum, ($200 for a party of 10?) but we have a semi-private spot for our group and a gorgeous view overlooking the estate lands.
But this post was about Chef Keller's new take-out spot, right?
How to describe the perfect fried chicken? One that looks perfectly fried, evenly brown all over, with a crust that doesn’t fall off or shatter completely after the first bite. The outer covering should also crackle and crunch easily under one’s teeth; it should be seasoned well, but not too much so as to overwhelm the taste of chicken. The meat should be moist, juicy and flavourful. In Keller’s case, it’s an 8-12 hour brine in lemon and herbs and a double-coating of buttermilk and flour that makes it so fabulous. Another sign of its greatness is that I couldn't really tell whether I was eating white meat or dark - every piece (one receives 3 generous pieces in the box) was equally tasty, well-seasoned and juicy. It all tasted good - even cold, and stayed crisp despite the travel from Addendum to William Hill. The sides - honeyed cornbread, potato salad and vinegary collard greens - were also delicious (though did not taste out of the ordinary).
A small number of folks had opted for BBQ instead of chicken; that day the kitchen served Baby-back ribs and pulled pork. I had a taste, and it was porky and flavourful. DD felt his serving a tad dry. All in all, probably best to order the chicken, but if Wagyu beef brisket might be on offer again, I may feel compelled to try it as well.
Addendum at Ad Hoc
6476 Washington Street
Yountville, CA 94599-1294