Chef David Cordua makes his solo restaurant debut with The Lymbar, named for the street he grew up on in Southwest Houston. (Photo by Dylan McEwan)
The Lymbar is located at 4201 Main St at The Ion, with its entrance on Fannin Street. (Photo by Dylan McEwan)
A glowing library of fine whiskeys and other spirits crowns the bar at the new restaurant, The Lymbar, located at The Ion. (Photo by Dylan McEwan)
Executive Chef Adolfo Lopez Jr., a Houston native, formerly worked at Brenner's on the Bayou, Uchi, and Churrascos. (Photo by Dylan McEwan)
Truffle 'Twinkies' with egg yolk custard, truffle, and fried brioche at The Lymbar. (Photo by Dylan McEwan)
Beef Tenderloin Tacos Arabes are on the menu at The Lymbar (Photo by Dylan McEwan)
Nestled in the jewelbox space of the Ion in Midtown, The Lymbar features an open kitchen with ten high-top seats at the chef's counter. (Photo by Dylan McEwan)
The talented progeny of one of Houston’s most influential chefs has swung open the doors of his new, much-anticipated, all-day cafe lounge and bar dubbed The Lymbar at The Ion in Midtown Houston. David Cordua — son of Nicaraguan-born chef Michael Cordua, who introduced Houston to the brave new world of Latin flavors by way of South and Central America — grew up in the kitchens of his father’s groundbreaking Churrascos and Americas restaurants.
Eventually, David Cordua worked his way up the kitchen food chain from washing dishes to prep cook before heading to Paris for a more formal culinary education. After two years abroad, he returned home, where he worked for 11 years with his famous father.
Today David Cordua is running the show at his first very own restaurant, collaborating with executive chef Adolfo Lopez, Jr. and working with his dad, who plays a role on the management team of The Lymbar. With a setting that feels like a posh hotel bar, you’ll dine seated in cozy sofas pulled up to sleek black marbled topped tables, many set beneath the life-size preserved ficus tree rooted in the center of the room. The tree’s a decorative ode to the mighty mosaic tree glazed in hundreds of colorful tiles that graced Americas.
Gin Braverman of the Houston-based Gin Design Group once had the gig of babysitting David Cordua way back when. So who better than this clever design mind to recreate the feeling of that beloved home, albeit with a modern twist?
Cordua aims to make you feel at home at The Lymbar with sink-your-seat-in sofas and barrel back chairs, not to mention commissioned art from Houston artist Carissa Marx who created the mural beneath the bar and the hand-painted concrete black and white scallop floor design. Swivel your head to see reminiscences of David Cordua’s childhood home on Lymbar Drive in Meyerland, the homestead first occupied by his grandmother and later by his parents and siblings. Decorative shelves at The Lymbar display framed portraits of Cordua’s grandmother, and many of those on his staff, childhood books and collectible comics along with cookbooks that we imagine inspire this Latin meets Mediterranean food restaurant.
The Lymbar’s 4,000-square-foot space that seats 120 is poised in the corner of the revamped Sears building, now known as The Ion, Houston’s new innovation hub where tech startups rub elbows here with developers and the like working with Microsoft, NASA and the green energy division of Chevron.
The Lymbar opens at 11 am on weekdays and 5 pm Saturdays. David Cordua likes to think of this new upscale casual restaurant as the perfect date night spot. Especially if, like me, you enjoy grazing over a myriad of bites, small and large, and sharing food with friends.
The Lymbar Menu
With life influencing his art, David Cordua’s wife, who is part Lebanese, is credited for broadening The Lymbar menu’s scope to meld the flavors of Latin America with those of the countries along the Mediterranean Sea. You’ll see it exemplified in dishes like empanadas ($9) filled with spinach, feta and halloumi cheese or corn (husk)-smoked lamb (a technique first employed at Churrascos) here recreated with lamb chops glazed with a guajillo chili laid atop a bed of Israeli pearl couscous ($42).
The bar bites are such fun, paired with the mixologist Sean Stapleton’s greenergy drink, a nod to The Ion’s other tenants. It’s a bright mix of lime and fresh mint enlivened with rum and green chartreuse ($11), while his pisco punch ($14) is a cool tincture mixed with pineapple Campari, cava and cloves. The drinks menu includes a half dozen beers and a sampling of wines produced in France, the United States, Italy and South America.
As for the food don’t miss the truffle twinkies — a past winner of the Truffle Masters contest in Houston — and no wonder why. A trio of three brioche bars is toasted in clarified butter and filled with a savory egg yolk custard scented with black winter truffle. Cordua’s “rosespud” is a cheeky take on those famed plantain chips we devoured at his last outpost, here russet potatoes are sliced paper thin and served with that familiar cilantro and smoked tomato dipping sauces ($9). Lymbar’s ceviche is a blend of Peruvian and Polynesian styles that combine snapper, shrimp and octopus in a coconut milk and chile oil bath set atop a sweet potato puree ($21).
Devotees of the Cordua clan’s food will recognize the churrasco, a center cut of beef tenderloin napped with chimichurri sauce, wedge fries and bearnaise ($48/$90) and the vanilla-laced tres leches ($12) topped with Italian meringue.
The Lymbar at The Ion is located 4201 Main Street. It is open from 11 am to 9:30 pm Mondays through Wednesdays, 11 am to midnight Thursdays and Fridays, and 4 pm to midnight Saturdays. It is closed Sundays.