my heart will go on
New high-energy River Oaks restaurant serves up Middle East coastal vibes, belly dancers, and diverse dishes
Houston’s next high-energy restaurant has opened in River Oaks. Albi offers a modern perspective on Mediterranean food in a stylish environment.
Located about the Men’s Warehouse at 1947 West Gray St., Albi — Arabic for “heart” — unites Mary’z Mediterranean Cuisine owners Nano and Jimy Fakhoury with local businessman Aladdin Nimri. The trio worked with Ciel architect Adel Sadek to create a posh, 6,600-square-foot space that feature chandeliers, red silk shade lamps, red and black banquettes, and and marble accents. A 40-person private dining room and 16-seat bar complement the expansive main dining.
Albi’s kitchen staff has adopted a similarly over-the-top approach. Legendary Houston chef Mark Cox (Mark’s American Cuisine) consulted on the menu, which will be executed day-to-day by executive chef Christian Hernandez, formerly the chef de cuisine at Houston fine dining restaurant March. Together, they’ve taken inspiration from Eastern Mediterranean countries like Turkey and Lebanon to create dishes that utilize Texas beef and lamb, seasonal produce, and Gulf Coast seafood.
Highlights from the menu — which is divided into three salads, seven cold mezza plates, 10 hot mezza plates and five entrees — include feta dumplings with citrus labneh, bluefin tuna tartare, king trumpet mushroom shwarma, and a Texas wagyu ribeye. Vegetarians will find options such salt-roasted beets, hummus, and za’atar-spiced cheese.
Beverage options start with wines from the region, many of which are priced between $60 and $120. Former Musaafer bartender Souvik Dasgupta consulted on a Middle Eastern-inspired cocktail menu that includes a Turkish coffee martini and a baklava Old Fashioned.
Similar to recently opened restaurants such as Ciel and Se7en, customers will dine in a lively atmosphere that features performances by singers, musicians, and belly dancers.
“We look forward to creating something very special for Houstonians – an ambience that evokes a very distinctive vibe of the ‘Levant’ area of the Middle East, which refers to the region along the eastern Mediterranean shores, a vibe we feel will resonate beautifully in this relaxed but buzzy corridor,” Nano Fakhoury said in a statement. “We can’t wait to bring exceptional service, phenomenal food, and a modern, energetic atmosphere to the neighborhood.”
Albi will be open for dinner Tuesday-Saturday beginning at 5 pm. Reservations are available via the Resy app.