A tavern for Memorial
Star Houston chef Aaron Bludorn reveals new tavern for familiar Memorial space
By any measure, the Bludorn team has gotten off to a strong start in Houston, and they’re not planning to slow down any time soon. Chef Aaron Bludorn, his wife Victoria Pappas Bludorn, and partner/general manager Cherif Mbodji have claimed the former Jonathan’s the Rub space (9061 Gaylord Dr.) for their third restaurant.
Slated to open in late 2023, the still-unnamed restaurant is described in press materials as an “upscale tavern” that will be open for lunch and dinner daily. Aaron Bludorn tells CultureMap part of the inspiration comes from the lively bar area at his Montrose-area restaurant Bludorn. The trio also wanted to bring something new to the neighborhood where Victoria Pappas Bludorn grew up.
“At the end of the day, I’m realizing the restaurants we open are the one we want to dine in ourselves,” Bludorn says. “The space dictates a lot of where the direction is. Then I think about where would Victoria and I want to go on a date night in that area, at that space. This is what fit the bill.”
The chefs adds that the new restaurant will operate at a similar level to his two other establishments: Bludorn, the smash hit modern fine dining restaurant that blends French and Gulf Coast cuisine, and Navy Blue, the seafood concept named by Texas Monthly as the state’s best new restaurant of 2023.
Both restaurants have earned praise from both critics and diners, including nominations for a number of CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, including Restaurant of the Year, Best New Restaurant, Rising Star Chef of the Year, Wine Program of the Year, and Pastry Chef of the Year. Aaron Bludorn won Chef of the Year in the 2022 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards.
Details about the menu are still under development, but certain dishes from both restaurants could point the way. For example, the Bludorn burger that uses dry-aged beef and the fried grouper sandwich at Navy Blue seem like tavern-style dishes. A tavern could potentially give a permanent home to Bludorn’s weekly prime rib or monthly fried chicken specials.
Regardless of what dishes it serves, diners can expect the same level of refined service that has been a hallmark of both Bludorn and Navy Blue.
“It’s truly a neighborhood restaurant, is what we’re looking to create there,” Bludorn adds. “That’s the best way for me to describe it. Something that feels comfortable and warm.”