Chocolate and cinnamon babka at Indianola. 

Image: Carla Gomez

Someone at Agricole Hospitality is obviously a Seinfeld fan, or at least, aims to please those who are (this writer included), because the very first item listed on Indianola’s brunch menu is warm chocolate and cinnamon babka.

And though I live but a stone’s throw from Indianola and had drooled considerably over photos of the babka and other morning offerings, pesky street construction and a paucity of parking options had me up until recently less than enthusiastic about visiting. But completion of the roadwork paved the way literally and metaphorically for my much postponed brunch, and around midday on a Sunday when the Astros were away I secured a parking spot and table. Score!

We started, naturally, with the babka, which arrived as advertised, warm and fluffy from a morning yeast rise. Dark chocolate and cinnamon marbling gave rise to alternating tastes of earthy cocoa and autumnal spice that mingled with buttery roasted pecan bits in the base vanilla dough.

I slapped my own hand away from the babka hunk after two servings to save stomach space for our savory starter and main courses. Because traditional ham is my least favorite porcine product (too salty, too often), I was wary of the Deviled Benton's Country Ham Dip but happy to find the cream leveled the pork fattiness, while acid from the side of pickles added a tangy tweak.  

Moroccan eggs.

Image: Carla Gomez

My entrée of crispy duck rice arrived in a cast-iron skillet. Major points to Indianola for not pre-mixing the dish’s components but rather layering them so I could puncture the divine crust of scorched rice at the very bottom before enjoying the upper strata of tender duck slices, baked eggs, toasted peanuts, and chiles. A desire to preserve a modicum of dignity prevented me from requesting an extra side of the earthy sweet and barely tart tamarind sauce.

few bites of my dining companion’s Moroccan eggs inspired only a twinge of order envy. The sumac-garlic yogurt is revelatory, but unfortunately the pretty frill of the fried eggs could do nothing to improve what were fundamentally over-cooked yolks.

That did little to detract from what was an overall positive experience, not only in terms of fare but also service (attentive but not officious). Save the start of any new proximal construction projects, there is no reason why I won’t be a repeat bruncher at Indianola.

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Indianola

$$ American/New American 1201 Saint Emanuel St.