Bon Vivant's written and pictorial diary of her culinary adventures that will amuse and excite your virtual taste buds...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Ad Hoc, Street, and BarBersQ - The Fried Chicken Trifecta

A preview of coming attractions – a platter of fried chicken at Ad Hoc:

People up here are always baffled by how far I’m willing to drive for food. The Nappans are always shocked that I do food shopping in Berkeley (it’s cheaper!) and the people in San Francisco can’t understand why I would drive from Napa to the city for dinner. In Los Angeles no one thinks twice about rejecting a potential squeeze because they may be considered geographically undesirable but a true foodie worth his or her salt will drive anywhere for a good meal.

How far was I willing to drive (one way) for good fried chicken?

Ad Hoc (11 Miles):

Ms. Diva Princess was in the city for a few days and informed me that she would be coming up to Napa to stay with me for a day or two. It’s only the best for my little Princess so I made rezzies at Ad Hoc. It didn’t really matter what was on the menu that night since all Princess needs is a bottle of wine to make her happy. Nevertheless, I was thrilled to discover that it was fried chicken night since I’ve been hearing of its infamy for months.

Some balk at paying $48 per person for fried chicken but how many of those dinners are served with a white anchovy salad?

And French Laundry garden vegetables?

I totally dug this fried chicken. The execution was perfect: nice and crispy without being greasy. The batter had a nice kick to it. Princess remarked to mumsy that she was unimpressed with Ad Hoc since they “only served fried chicken” but she obviously forgot that she raided my refrigerator the next morning and ate three beautiful pieces and left me the dregs – those dregs still tasted pretty damn good the next day.

Fried chicken is normally served on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday of each week.

Street (46.9 miles):

When I told mumsy that I was going to drive into the city for a fried chicken specific dinner, she said, “When you were really skinny you wouldn’t go near fried chicken.” Well, I’m not really skinny anymore and I’ll now drive 50 miles for it.

I was initially a little skeptical about the fried chicken at Street. I had read that it was skinless and I wondered if the chicken would be dry. I was pleasantly surprise when I took my first bite: although it was not really juicy, the meat was not dry at all. The coating was crispy, well seasoned, and not at all greasy. Everyone really liked the fried chicken but I have to say that this chicken needs to be eaten right away – it wilted tremendously on the ride home (ok, ok, it was a long drive and I got hungry) and wasn’t as good left over the next day.

The sides here are a carboholics dream: fresh shucked sautéed corn; mashed with gravy; and if you are feeling indulgent, you can splurge for the sour cream corn bread - and I suggest that you do. I wasn’t too enamored with the coleslaw though, it had too much celery seed in it and it also tasted like the acid in the dressing was Meyer lemon which gave it a somewhat weird flavor like slightly sour (not in a good way) mixed with lemon ice cream.

Fried chicken is served only on Sunday nights.

BarBersQ (5.2 miles):

The unveiling of the BarbersQ fried chicken (Pepper approved!):

After reading about fried chicken night at BarBersQ in Napa my expectations were really high. The chef, Stephen Barber, took a foodie road trip throughout the state of Kansas researching fried chicken, and his efforts have paid off: I had an excellent meal. I was a bit worried at first since I got the dinner to-go but the chicken stayed very warm and crispy in its container on the ride home (it’s obvious that this chicken is fried to order). This fried chicken dinner was my favorite of the three due to the well seasoned and crispy crust (they use a flour coating as opposed to a batter) and the fact that the meat was uber juicy. And it tasted great the next day.

Although my favorite mashed were at Ad Hoc, BarBersQ gravy was fabulous – it had such a rich, deep flavor. The meal is also served with collards. These I had an issue with: they either had sugar in them or the restaurant used a very sweet vinegar to flavor them. I guess it’s a matter of personal taste but I prefer a savory chile spiked vinegar on my greens. Since I wanted to go into a carb coma, I also ordered a side of macaroni and cheese which was fairly good.

Fried chicken is served all day Sunday.

Ad Hoc
6476 Washington Street
Yountville, CA 94599
(707) 944-2487

2141 Polk Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 775-1055

3900 D Bel Aire Plaza
Napa, CA 94558
(707) 224-6600

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