I’ll admit something right here at the beginning: I’ve historically been pretty hard on The House in Hillcrest. Part of it has to do with my extreme dislike of the term “gastropub,” which seems both far too pretentious and precious for anybody’s good. The other part has to do with the fact that I haven’t ever had a meal at the The House that I would consider outstanding, nor have I ever experienced the level of service necessary for a restaurant to compete in that neighborhood. Lastly, I’ve been extremely tough on the place due to their French fries, which I find to be some of the worst in town. So having said all that, it might surprise you all that I’m picking a dish from the House for this edition of Chew on This — but that’s exactly what I’m doing.

By far the best thing to get at the House is the Hummus Plate, a generous portion of creamy chickpea puree with with tangy tzatziki, a spicy chili sauce, and a small pile of feta cheese, kalamata olive, and pepperoncinis. This hummus is heavy on the nutty flavor of tahini, but the large slice of lemon provided lets diners decide how acidic they want to go with the dip. The platter is served with some very good toasted ciabatta bread, which I think is a very nice change from the typical dry pita chips so commonly served with hummus. The tzatziki is excellent, with the mild sweet cucumber flavor melding well with the thick yogurt base. One of the nicest aspects on the plate is how well the flavor of the feta is complimented by the spicy chili sauce. There are a lot of flavors going on with this appetizer, and I was pleased with them all.

I’ve eaten hummus at most of the places in Little Rock that serve it, and I’d say the House’s version stacks up well against almost all of them. Take your chances with the rest of the menu, but this appetizer is a winner.