Agricole Hospitality has launched their EaDo takeover with a triple threat. Ryan Pera and Morgan Weber are two of the big names behind the new empire.
Vinny's monster pies come in at a whopping 52 ounces.
Ordering this massive steak at Indianola is no mistake.
Ryan Pera said Miss Carousel's duck wings are the best he's ever had.
The deconstructed lemon poppy dip is as good in flavor as it is in presentation.
Miss Carousel's chicken and shrimp meatballs are the perfect size for snacking.
The shrimp n crab cocktail is Indianola's take on a campechana.
The sandwiches are brimming with mushrooms.
The Ruby Trout comes with salsa Veracruz, jalapeño, olives, capers and soft cooked onions.
Miss Carousel is refined yet comfortable.
Indianola has a light, bright interior.
When it comes to Agricole Hospitality’s much-anticipated EaDo takeover, three draws a crowd. It’s the magic number, after all — and it’s a trio of friends that’s responsible for the triptych of unique restaurant and bar concepts all under one roof at 1201 Saint Emanuel.
Partners Ryan Pera, Morgan Weber and Vincent Huynh have crafted a collaborative trio of new EaDo spots at the corner of St. Emmanuel and Dallas streets. They all smack of Agricole Hospitality — which is also behind Coltivare, Eight Row Flint and Revival Market — but you’ll find there’s quite the range.
Modern American restaurant Indianola is inspired by diverse cuisines from across the globe. Pizzeria Vinny’s is a raucous joint drawing buzz for its 52-ounce pies. And then there’s Miss Carousel, a comfortable-yet-refined bar where there’s no need to come in your finest that will be known for a lengthy list of original cocktails.
1201 Saint Emanuel is set to become an eclectic, 14,000-square-foot foodie playground in one of Houston’s hippest neighborhoods. Three different play areas, one common goal.
The pizza parlor was the first to open, but that’s only one piece of the pie. Still, you know, first time’s the charmer.
“It’s going to sound cheesy, but I’m going to go ahead and say it’s hospitality. It just means bringing people in your home and giving them the best you can, treating them like your friends, your true family,” Huynh tells PaperCity.
Each concept calls for a tailored Agricole Hospitality approach. “The pizzeria is really a backyard party, no rules. Just try not to throw up on anything and have a good time,” Huynh laughs.
“Indianola, it’s giving you a more refined service experience, presenting you food that’s a little more bit more crafted and thought-out. And for Miss Carousel — please sit down, tell us what you like and let us take over.”
The approach for Indianola is at once worldly and American, global and local.
That looks like a Texas Wagyu burger on a cheddar-jalapeno bun, wood-grilled Santa Maria steak with green tomatillo escabeche and corn puree, wood-grilled half-chicken with Spanish rice and Fresno chili.
Indianola gets its name from that historic Texas port of entry. “That resonated with us really well. All of us are descendants of American immigrants,” Pera says. Many immigrants made it to America thanks to Indianola — including Weber’s very own Czech and German ancestors.
His partners share strong ties to their immigrant backgrounds as well. Hyunh’s family migrated from Asia to San Francisco, and Pera’s forebears hailed from Italy, entering the United States from Ellis Island.
“We want the food to be what America is to us. That’s what America is to us,” Pera says.
They interpreted their collective heritages as a dynamic menu divvied up between large plates, sides, snacks and small plates. The culinary blend gave the chef freedom.
“We’re not necessarily going out of the way to do it for kitsch, theatrics or fireworks but just embracing things that are truly great and humbling that come from these backgrounds that we now, as chefs, call American,” Pera says.
Huynh isn’t shy about his favorite. “There’s a lamb neck, a small lamb roast with some gnocchi Parisian with a shoe paste, not potato gnocchi. You drop them in boiling water so you get these little light dumplings, and pureed mint. It’s like an old-school lamb with mint and peas but so satisfying,” he says.
Pera is all about a certain side — crispy duck wings in garlic, Fresno chili and herbs. The jumbo wings are sticky and filling.
There was a fair amount of spitballing for the pizza parlor’s patronymic. They tossed the idea around the way you would dough.
But they settled on Vinny’s in honor of Huynh. “They were saying, ‘You opened a pizza parlor.’ Hey, we opened a pizza parlor,” Hunyh says.
“It put all the pressure on him,” Pera laughs.
Choosing pizza was no biggie. Anyway you slice it, it’s destined to please. “I think it’s a food we all find near and dear for one reason or another. Mostly because it’s that cheap, high-octane sustenance that gets you through your youth that you still always want when you’re an adult,” Huynh notes.
You can expect the same quality as Coltivare’s pizza at Vinny’s, just in a whole new way. Getting down to basics, it’s the same dough. But the proportions are all new, making for a new style, flavor and texture.
Vinny’s is serving up pizza on steroids, monstrous 52-ounce rectangular pies you can order in full, half-size or by the slice. The partners traveled the whole country over for inspiration, sampling pizza after pizza.
Once home, it was roughly six weeks of making pizza daily, eating pizza daily.
“I think I developed a disorder. That much dough really gets you,” Huynh laughs.
Chef Lewis uses canned San Marzanno tomatoes for the sauce and Parmesan cheese, fresh herbs, garlic and olive oil, which is never cooked before baking to preserve the flavor. Their favorite cheese, Wisconsin Brick provides a lot of the base.
All chorizo and Italian sausages are handmade in-house, the result of tireless research. Fatback Pig Project in Alabama produces them.
Chef’s favorites? Pepperoni — which he calls the gold standard of any pizza place — and the Green Machine, with pureed onions, caramelized onions, kale and feta.
For the bar component of 1201 Saint Emanuel, Weber called upon a nostalgic muse. “The idea behind Miss Carousel stemmed from this period of time when I had a slight obsession with the hotel lobby lounge,” Weber says.
“I loved the 20th century idea of a hotel bar, especially when you took a journey to get there, the whole thing. The hotel lobby bar was really where the creative cocktail movement took off in the 1920s.”
It’s an accessible spot, flipping the unapproachable titular Miss Carousel in Townes Van Zandt’s “Fare thee well, Miss Carousel.” It’s refined yet comfortable.
“The first drink I think it’s really important to make as anxiety-free as possible,” Weber says. “We try to get things in front of people that are familiar, but we also want to give them something a little unexpected.”
Miss Carousel takes the same approach as Indianola, representing many ethnic backgrounds, one glass at a time. The 5,000-square-foot bar serves up 30 cocktails, divided into classic categories such as Highballs, Sours, Bitter, Spiritous, and your-not-so-traditional Extremely Interesting, Non-Conforming — Weber’s favorite.
An example from that department that deviates from the norm: Rule of Saint Benedict, a boozy bevy of ingredients, many of which lack vowels. It’s Don Pancho 8-year rum, beefeater gin, Rhum J.M. Vo, Plantation O.F.T.D, rum fire, amaro meletti and more — including the signature Miss Carousel bitters.
The unattainable Miss Carousel inspired the unique Miss Carousel Cocktail, with cognac, rye, amaro, nocino, orange flower water and lemon with a nutty addition: pistachio and walnut orgeat.
These may sound like complex choices, but Weber stresses that you won’t spend half your evening waiting at the bar.
“It’s not a space built around the pretentiousness of the bartender making the drinks,” he says. “It’s a place for you to come with your significant other or friend and just find your own journey.”
And you don’t have to be at Miss Carousel to enjoy these drinks. You can order them from Indianola to sip on during supper. The cross-cultural aspect of the concepts doesn’t end there.
“We are here to provide what people are looking for. You’re in Indianola and want a big slice of Vinny’s pizza? Absolutely. You’re at Miss Carousel and you want the special app from Indianola? Absolutely,” Huynh says.
Again, same goal, different approaches. “I think that with Miss Carousel, we’re hoping people come in and see something wholly new for Houston. We’re hoping the takeaway is ‘Oh my god, this place is beautiful and comfortable and so unlike any other drinking experience I can have in the fourth largest city in the nation.’ Very much ‘Wow,’ ” Huynh says.
“For Indianola, I want them to take away comfort and know that it doesn’t have to be a special occasion or nice night, that they don’t feel too buttoned-up or reserved. Do come here for a first visit, if it’s a special occasion or nice night out. But just know we can do that on a regular day, too. Bring the kiddos.
“For Vinny’s, have a great time. Make a mess. Be as wild as you want to be.”
Looking for a one-stop shop in EaDo? It may just be as easy as one, two, three.