Houston’s East Village, that is. The recently christened entertainment district borders St. Emanuel and Polk on one side and BBVA Compass Stadium on the other. It’s where you’ll find such trendy bistros as Nancy’s Hustle and Rodeo Goat.
Right in the center of it all are a trio of eateries operated by Agricole Hospitality, of Coltivare and Revival Market fame. Their three East Village spots include Vinny’s, a pizza joint; Miss Carousel, a cocktail lounge with bar grub; and Indianola, the restaurant you will read of now.
Described as an American Everyday restaurant, Indianola offers modernist cooking that I’d classify several notches above “every day.”
At dinner, you might fancy a light Rainbow Trout served with tomato salsa, olives, and capers, or maybe a Mushroom Stroganoff or a Blackened Cauliflower vegetarian entrée. Small Plates include Barbeque Shrimp and a Wood Roasted Grape Toast on sourdough with ricotta and sunflower seeds.
There’s a burger, a cheese board, and a luscious-sounding Pecan Caramel Tres Leches Cake. I want to go back and order them all.
That’s because a recent Sunday brunch at Indianola was one of the best I’ve had in ages. There isn’t much street parking, but I found a spot and made my way in. (There are plenty of pay lots in the area.)
Now, Agricole’s “hospitality” has a reputation for, let’s say, being a little aloof. I’ve experienced it myself. And I thought I was about to suffer again when the haughty host directed me to a stool at the chef’s counter.
But a quick word with my far more pleasant server and I was in one of Indianola’s comfortable banquettes. They’re padded in an appealing pink-tinted beige. If you entertain and want your guests to look fabulous, this is the shade you want for your walls.
Around the rest of the space, whites and browns evoke… nothing in particular, but it’s all stylish, nonetheless. And the brunch menu has serious style and substance.
I started with a Lemon Poppy Dip. Citrusy heaven as crisp vegetables and sesame seed crisps are dunked in and scooped out of what’s basically lemon olive oil, herbs, and finely crumbled goat cheese. I’m not a numerical rating kind of guy, but this dish ranks a full five out of five spots on my shirt!
Just like wedge salads, if I see shakshuka on a menu, I’m ordering it. Indianola’s Moroccan Eggs are baked in a spiced (not spicy) tomato sauce and served with garbanzos and English Pea falafel that’s brown on the outside, a dazzling green within. This is my favorite egg dish so far this year.
Brunch wouldn’t be the same without a cocktail, and while Indianola has a brunch selection, I chose one from Miss Carousel: Pacific Jet Lag, with pineapple rum, coconut, curaçao, cold brew concentrate, and lime. This mix flew me to Morocco just as my eggs did. It smells and tastes of patchouli if you can imagine that, and it’s sublime.