By Vanesa Brashier, firstname.lastname@example.org
Celebrated Chef Jim Condra has joined the staff of La Costa Seafood Restaurant in Cleveland. Condra, who hails from Cleveland, most recently was the chef for Hilltop Restaurant and Herb Garden.
Condra is bringing his signature recipe for New Orleans-style bread pudding with Jack Daniel sauce to the menu, along with weekly specials, hand-battered fish, shrimp and calamari, and fresh seasonal seafood.
“We are trying to keep it as close to the roots of the restaurant as we can. We are going to stick with some of the menu items that were inspired from Pepe’s childhood growing up around the water,” Condra said of owner Juan “Pepe” Lozano. “The specials might veer off some and might not be Mexican-inspired. The specials will change every week depending on what fresh fish we can get.”
Some of the items to look for on the menu are grilled swordfish with pineapple salsa, tilapia stuffed with tomatillos, Monterrey Jack cheese and a chardonnay cream, and crab and spinach dip.
“We are also making our own marinara, cocktail sauce and alfredo sauce,” Condra said.
For the non-seafood eaters, there are plenty of other tempting items on the menu, such as beef and chicken fajitas and tacos, chicken alfredo and steaks.
“We also have a big menu for children. We try to cater to the whole family,” Condra said.
With a full bar, there are plenty of traditional and Mexican-inspired drinks from which to choose. The restaurant also features live music and full dining in its outdoor palapa.
Condra said he is looking forward to working with Pepe Lozano and his family, who also own the Pueblo Viejo Mexican Restaurants in Cleveland, Porter and Livingston. Lozano’s cousin, Alex Alvarado, is a partner with La Costa Seafood and handles the day-to-day management of the restaurant.
“They have created a really beautiful restaurant here. They paid a lot of attention to detail when they designed it. It’s a great family of restaurant people,” he said.
Condra trained as a chef at San Jacinto Culinary School before joining the staff of Chez Nous in Humble for seven years. He completed an apprenticeship in France after that, working in La Taupinière Restaurant. After the apprenticeship ended, he returned to Chez Nous for a year before taking a position as chef for Mr. B’s Bistro in New Orleans. Following his stint in New Orleans, he helped open Lagniappe Cafe in Orlando, Fla., then worked at the Tapas Restaurant in Orlando.
Homesick for Texas, he took a job as a chef at a hunting lodge on the King Ranch in Kingsville. His longest-running chef position, however, was at Hilltop Restaurant and Herb Farm near Romayor, Texas, where he spent a combined 20 years.
For more information on La Costa’s menu, hours and entertainment schedule, follow the restaurant on Facebook or call 832-480-5358. The location is 1002 S. Washington Ave., Cleveland.