Greek classic 

It's a hit parade at the Terrace Mediterranean Kitchen.

click to enlarge MMMM, MOUSSAKA: The Terrace favorite is like shepherd's pie and lasagna had a baby.
  • MMMM, MOUSSAKA: The Terrace favorite is like shepherd's pie and lasagna had a baby.

Few around here even knew what hummus was when Terry and Jerry Barakat started serving it when they opened the Terrace in 1981 in Breckenridge Village. Now it's about as common as it gets — a staple appetizer with several varieties available at any grocery store. You can't say the same thing about tabbouleh or baba ghanouj, but they're not exactly "exotic" anymore.

Those three traditional Greek dishes remain staples at the Terrace — or, to be accurate, the Terrace Mediterranean Kitchen — 36 years later, served now under the guidance of the Barakats' daughters, Susi and Sandy. They bought the restaurant from their father six years ago and have continued its long history of excellence.

The first dip of soft pita into the Terrace hummus quickly reminded us the difference in this creamy, rich and light dip vs. typical grocery hummus. The equally rich and creamy baba ghanouj and the bright, citrusy, minty tabbouleh are served together as the Kitchen Sampler appetizer ($8.50), and it's a must-get.

We also adored the Warm Goat Cheese ($6.95), a rounded puck of soft chevre, lightly coated with bread crumb dust and served with about a half-dozen cloves of roasted garlic, pesto made with sun-dried tomatoes, plenty of Greek olives and some crispy slices of toasted baguette. Combining the gooey, creamy cheese with the sweet garlic, the sharper taste of the sun-dried tomatoes and the thin, crunchy baguette is the way to enjoy it best.

We are a sucker for osso bucco. While the classic version features braised veal shanks, it's also made with pork or lamb. So when we spotted "lamb shank" ($22.50) on the menu we jumped all over it. The description called it "fall-off-the-bone lamb," and that it definitely was. We've never had it this tender — essentially lamb pot roast, served with carrots and rice. It was such a huge shank we anticipated leftovers. But no.

We've also always loved moussaka. It's like shepherd's pie and lasagna had a delicious Greek baby. This comfort food features thinly sliced eggplant layered with well-seasoned ground beef and loose, rich savory custard on top. The Terrace's moussaka ($14.95) is a generous portion accompanied by roasted carrots and tasty rice.

We have a friend who declares the Terrace's chocolate creme brulee ($6.75) the best in town, which is saying something, because there are some brulees in this town worth licking the ramekin clean. We think this brulee can hold its own, for sure. It is plenty chocolaty (some chocolate brulees are too stingy with the good stuff). And it might be the first one we've had that didn't come in a ramekin. Rather, it was a square-cut piece cut from a larger pan and plopped on a plate. It has a thick, less crunchy torched top and is as creamy as you could want. We could live without the fairly heavy drizzle of raspberry, but we easily fought through it.

At 7:30 p.m. on a recent Wednesday, the small dining room was almost full, as were the few outdoor tables even though it was more than a little steamy outside. Service was fabulous, and we fully enjoyed our first trip back to this Little Rock classic in some time.

The Terrace Mediterranean Kitchen
2200 Rodney Parham Road

Quick bite

A great blast from the Terrace's past still awaits at the top of the menu: the kitchen sampler ($8.50), decent-sized portions of creamy hummus, tart tabbouleh and piquant baba ghanouj.

Hours: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. weekdays, 5-9:30 p.m. Mon.-Sat.

Other info: Full bar, credit cards accepted.



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