Leibman’s Is Reborn With Decadent Breakfast Dishes, Sandwiches & More
Many Houstonians mourned the loss of Leibman’s Wine & Fine Food on Memorial when it closed last year. Some wondered if the twin strikes of Hurricane Harvey and road renovations on Memorial in 2017 put too much financial strain on the business. Former owner Etienne Leibman and her husband, originally from South Africa, introduced many of their native foods to the city in 1979 — long before Peli Peli and Springbok appeared on the scene. These included boerewors sausage and babotie. Luckily for us, the Leibmans’ daughter, Sharon, has relocated the store close to Memorial City Mall. The new Leibman’s Eatery, Market & Gifts is on into the bottom floor of an office building at 10100 Katy Freeway and Gessner.
Sharon Leibman retained longtime Houston food service consulting company A’La Carte to assist with revamping the existing menu, as well as streamlining the overall operation. The result is a refreshed menu that still retains many of the family favorites.
Leibman’s Deli starts serving at breakfast-time — which runs 7 to 11 a.m. — and the selections we tried are quite special. The Southern Chicken Benedict is a chive biscuit sandwich with oozy, over-easy eggs atop chewy bacon wrapped inside springy-soft cheese. If that wasn’t enough decadence, moist chicken fingers with cream gravy come alongside.
Then there’s the ’79 Classic, a reimagining of corned beef and hash. We’re not talking about that stuff in a can here. This is all-meat, minced corned beef aside two eggs, buttered sourdough toast and crunchy hash browns.
Either dish would be enhanced with a mimosa or bloody Mary. For a lighter (and dare we say hipster) breakfast, one might choose the avocado toast or overnight oats with berries, granola and chia seeds. Other breakfast options include the Memorial City Taco, the Top of the Morning (an English breakfast with Irish bacon and grilled tomatoes), the bacon egg and cheese Corridor Croissant and the bagel and schmear.
Leibman’s lunch items are ideal for the business crowd in the office building above the restaurant and across I-10 at the mall. These includes classic deli sandwiches like Reubens, The Big Apple (pastrami on rye), and The New Yorker (smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel sandwich). Diners who want to experience South African ingredients might instead choose the Out of Africa sandwich with South African borewors sausage, caramelized onion and tomato chutney or the Indian curry-inflected Afrique chicken salad. There are even vegetarian sandwich options like the Sunshine Crunch and the Garden Variety.
Dinner entrees run the gamut. The “world tour” of dishes includes the Asian Quinoa Power Bowl; the HTX burger; Spinach Ricotta Pappardelle, pan-roasted salmon with cannellini beans, tomato, and kale; braised short rib with cipollini onions, Brussels sprouts, and mashed potatoes; Mediterranean Pork Tenderloin atop couscous and roasted vegetables; and a hanger steak from 44 Farms with chimichurri butter served with a twice-baked potato and a blue cheese and baby gem salad.
The meal-sized salads are ideal as Houston slides into summer. The three options are the Etienne with pears, lentils, Roquefort cheese, candied walnuts and fig balsamic dressing; the House C.A.B. (the initials stand for Chicken Avocado and Bacon), and the Burrata Peach with grilled Fredericksburg peaches, heirloom tomatoes, burrata, arugula, and basil. Diners can add grilled chicken, fish, or shrimp to any of them.
Those who saved room for dessert can choose from the mixed berry tart, chocolate tart, quickbreads, cookies, chocolate truffles and candy fruit slices. The mixed berry tart has a flaky tart base filled with simple vanilla custard then topped with a medley of fresh strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. The chocolate tart is composed of dark chocolate and topped with chopped peanuts. Unlike their packaged counterparts, Leibman’s fruit slices are softer and come in much more distinctive flavors, such as pomegranate and grapefruit.
The deli is the main focus of the new store while retail items are now more of a bespoke accent. However, fans of the old store can still find a small selection of groceries, tableware, Mary Lake Thompson towels, Caspari napkins, jewelry, and housewares. (Many of the more unusual grocery items and holiday décor from The Roundtop Collection don’t appear to have crossed the interstate.) The South African wine selection has been reduced to a small pair of cases, but wines by the glass are available in the café. Don’t overlook the cheese case; a bake-at-home brie encased in pastry would make an appealing and time-saving appetizer.
Leibman’s Eatery serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in their new location at 10100 Katy Freeway Mondays through Fridays from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.