We may have slept through Thursday night dinner on our first night in Napa, but we were determined to make it to our Friday night dinner at ad hoc. After our morning winery, a great lunch at Mustards Grill, our afternoon winery and some time at the pool, we were all feeling ready for a real dinner. We packed into the car and headed for Yountville.
Did I mention we were doing our traveling in one vehicle? We had a driver for our day of wine tasting on Thursday, so we were comfortably seated in a 12 passenger bus. Friday, though, we were on our own. We had two cars, but fortunately, the car B and I shared with B2 and JH had a 3rd row of seating. It sat 8… but it comfortably sat 7 adults… and there were 8 of us. We made it work, but there were a few tight shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip rides through Napa Valley on Friday. It was worth it to only need one driver, though. At least I assume it was worth it. You’d have to ask B2 since he did all the driving.
We made it to Yountville and found ad hoc without a problem. I instantly liked Yountville and wished we could have stayed longer. The general consensus in the group was that we needed two more days. Napa really is a great vacation because there are no late nights. The whole town shuts down by 10:00PM. There isn’t much to do at night, so you get to bed early, wake up early, and have a whole day of relaxing activities. There isn’t much that’s taxing about Napa. Granted, the wine will take it’s toll, but given 4 days or so, you could easily offset that and still visit lots of great wineries.
In any case, we eventually arrived at ad hoc… early for our reservation and were sat right away. Ad hoc has a set menu, posted daily (though not super early since we checked 4 times before it was posted). Our menu (that I meant to take a photo of) involved sous vides short ribs, awesome veggies from the French Laundry garden, amazing scallops, and an incredible dessert involving pound cake and mango. I really meant to take a photo of the menu or a screenshot online, but that didn’t happen.
There’s always an add-on at ad hoc. Take it. Trust me. You won’t regret it.
Perhaps the most astonishing part (with this group at least) was that there was a total of four glasses of wine consumed between the eight of us. SS contemplated the wine flight, but ultimately resisted. I couldn’t stomach the thought of wine… or anything more than water for that matter. I was, however, obsessed with the details of the meal. This tiny carrot, for example, is a beautiful example of the amazing details we encountered at ad hoc. The staff was awesome. Honestly, they all looked like a scene out of a reality dating show more than a restaurant staff. The guys taking our plates away were more akin to models than regular folks. Everyone we encountered (even despite our low wine consumption) was absolutely lovely.
You must remember that this group of eight was comprised of 100% city folk. With B and I hailing from Seattle, SS, MS, BC, and RC from the D.C. area, and B2 and JH from New York, country life doesn’t exactly come naturally. We left the restaurant and somehow, everyone looked up. A collective “whoa” rose from the crowd. We saw something at once astonishing and comforting…. stars. This group of city folk… we stood and we stared at the stars.
I miss stars more than I should. Seattle is an accessible city. It’s not suffocating in the way LA was. We don’t see stars often, though. We see a stark black sky, clouds more often than not, but not stars. We didn’t stand out there more than five minutes before jamming ourselves back into our SUV and heading back to the hotel. For those five minutes, though, we all stood very still and appreciated the fact that we were out there, hundreds or thousands of miles from home, staring at the stars that are so close, but so far from our perspective. It’s good to go away with friends. It’s good to get out of the city, to eat great food, to have dinner without wine.