We’ve been meaning to try The House for quite awhile – it’s one of those places that I think about every time I drive by and yet never seem to get around to trying. We finally found ourselves in Hillcrest on a Friday night where we couldn’t decide exactly what we wanted and figured that The House’s diverse menu would be sure to have something to satisfy. I’d heard good things about their burgers and hummus, and I’d also heard they had a pretty good selection of beers on tap, although our server ran through the list so quickly that I couldn’t really tell you what they are. I managed to catch something about Tallgrass brewing and said, “Yeah, bring me that.” Jess did the same with a Goose Island Honker’s Ale. I’ve never understood why places will print a wine list and not do the same for beer – but I digress.
We started with the Hummus and Tzatziki plate, an extremely generous portion of the creamy chickpea puree with tangy tzatziki, a spicy chili sauce, and a small pile of feta cheese, kalamata olive, and pepperoncinis. The platter was served with some very good toasted ciabatta bread, which I found to be a very nice change from the typical dry pita chips so commonly served with hummus. The hummus itself was tasty, if a tad heavy on the tahini – but that was balanced nicely by a squeeze of the lemon served to the side. The tzatziki was excellent, with the mild sweet cucumber flavor melding well with the thick yogurt base. The greatest discovery on the plate was how well the flavor of the feta was complimented by the spicy chili sauce. There’s a lot of flavors going on with this appetizer, and we were pleased with them all.
For her entree, Jess ordered the House Burger with caremelized onions and cheese. We’d heard that the House’s sweet potato fries were great, and so she ordered those as a side dish…only to be served the regular fries you see in the picture to the left. The burger itself was good: the thick beef patty was seared well but still juicy, and the carmelized onions were sweet and added some richness to the tomato and lettuce that come as the standard toppings. The bun, like all of the Boulevard Bread Company bread that The House serves was excellent.
I ordered the Swiss Dip, which is a French Dip sandwich with Swiss cheese. The sandwich was good, with a generous portion of tender steak, sliced thin and covered with melted Swiss and an onion and mushroom mix I wish had stayed on the grill just a touch longer. The au jus was rich and flavorful and provided the perfect complement to the steak – and I was happy to have that generous hoagie roll to soak it all up. I ordered the regular French fries with my sandwich, and it’s really here that we hit the only major snag of our otherwise great meal at The House – the fries were simply awful. These fries were limp, soggy, lifeless chunks of potato that drooped when we picked them up and lacked any sort of crunch whatsoever. A good French fry is crisp on the outside and gives way to a soft, mealy interior. Who knows, they may just have been having an off night on the fry station – but it doesn’t seem like they’re blanching their potatoes before frying them, and that means soggy fries.
French fry woes excepted, we enjoyed our meal at The House a great deal. The portions are large, and obvious care has been taken to create flavorful sandwiches and attractive appetizer platters. The service was friendly and efficient, and I have to compliment the kitchen and our server for knowing just when to hit our table with the appetizer and main dishes – I never felt rushed or felt like I was waiting too long for anything. There are some other dishes that look intriguing on the menu – like fish and chips or mac ‘n cheese – that I hope to try on a future trip. The atmosphere is unique and quirky without being gimmicky, and it’s right in the middle of one of our favorite parts of town. It’s a restaurant that with just a little effort could go from “good” to “great,” and I have high hopes that they can do it. Enjoy!