Ad Lib (Yountville, CA)
1600 Atlas Peak Rd
Napa, CA 94558
Dining date: 8/30/15
When The French Laundry closed this past winter for a remodel, Thomas Keller partnered with Napa’s Silverado Resort to open up a temporary restaurant on the grounds. The primary reason was to keep the TFL team employed while the restaurant was closed, which was only supposed to be about 3-4 months. The French Laundry did reopen in April, but Ad Lib’s run has been extended through October when the resort will host a PGA Tour event.
While I am a huge Thomas Keller fan, I was a little apprehensive about trying Ad Lib. The restaurant had received somewhat mixed reviews and The French Laundry staff had already departed in April back to their home restaurant. Furthermore, one of the most popular dishes from the original run, a short rib beef wellington, was no longer on the menu. However, I figured I might as well give the restaurant a try during its limited run.
Temporarily situated inside the resort’s Royal Oak restaurant, Ad Lib was one of the dimmest restaurants in recent memory. The focus of the decor was primarily on the large windows peering out onto the resort grounds and its golf course. While it was dark by the time of our reservation, we observed a striking moonrise over the mountains.
The steak tartare was spiced well with a great complementary mustard.
A bottle of The French Laundry’s house label wine, Modicum, was our drink of choice this evening.
Modicum Cabernet Sauvignon, “Rutherford” 2011 Napa Valley
Parker House Rolls
Served warm, airy Parker House Rolls were delicious with its sea salt topping.
Grilled Kurobuta Pork Chop Spiced Fruit Chutney and Whole Grain Mustard Jus
This pork chop was a double-cut, cooked well with a rich mustard sauce and sweet-sour fruit chutney.
“True” Rib-Eye of Snake River Farms Beef
I rarely order just the eye of the ribeye; the fatty cap is one of my favorite parts of the steak. Having said that, the server highly recommended this steak and it did not disappoint. The ribeye had a fantastic sear and plenty of flavor. The accompanying bordelaise packed so much more depth of flavor. I think this beef was probably an American wagyu breed – it seemed much richer and more flavorful than a USDA Prime steak.
Mac and Cheese
Charred Broccolini with Toasted Chili Flakes and Ricotta Salata
The mac and cheese was a very strong side with the pasta maintaining its chew in the cheesy sauce. Crispy breadcrumbs added an addicting crunch to each bite. Broccolini was as caramelized as advertised; it came with plenty of grated sheep’s milk cheese for some added richness.
Seven Layer Coconut Cake
We ended the meal with a moist and light layered coconut cake with plenty of shaved coconut.
I really enjoyed Ad Lib; it exceeded my tempered expectations. It really felt like an old steakhouse, both in decor and menu, but the food was prepared really well (as expected for any Keller restaurant). The cuisine was far from cutting edge but it wasn’t meant to be; most importantly, everything we had this evening was pretty delicious.