The name Sergio Lopez might not be familiar, but chances are the names ‘Tom & Serg’ are. Yes, Sergio Lopez is the Serg from Tom & Serg fame – the foodie entrepreneurial duo who took Dubai by storm when they opened a Melbourne-inspired cafe by the same name in Al Quoz in 2013 and arguably pioneered Dubai’s, now, flourishing, speciality coffee shop and cafe scene.
Fast-forward 5 years and Sergio has (sort of) parted ways with his business partner Tom Arnell, serving only on the board and as a shareholder of their F&B business, Bull & Roo. And instead, he’s opened an exciting new chapter in the book of Lopez – debuting his first solo endeavour and operation in the UAE capital with Sanderson’s Abu Dhabi. (Sanderson’s isn’t Sergio’s first solo concept globally – he has quietly opened a restaurant in his home country in Spain (in Madrid), plus several other operations outside the UAE.)
Sergio chose the Al Seef Resort & Spa by Andalus in Abu Dhabi because of the “small Mediterranean village” vibe. As soon as you step inside the complex you feel as if you have been transported to some secret gem in the Mediterranean, thanks to the low-rise white-coloured buildings, happy faces walking around and laidback energy.
Sanderson’s is flanked by a snappable green canopy of leaves and a pretty outdoor seating area built up of white tables and chairs. Inside, the Mediterranean vibes are immediately apparent. Think more greenery and island-style furnishings. There’s also a small retail corner with regional accessories and trinkets that you can purchase and take home with you.
Named after Sergio’s friend Sanderson, this Khalifa Park Area gem is open daily for breakfast (served all day long), lunch and dinner between 8 am and 10 pm. The menu is built around wholesome dishes and “handmade healthy mood food”, with a few cheat-day-worthy treats here and there for balance. Head chef Troy was previously at Bull & Roo’s The Sum of Us and the now defunct Zahira in the H Hotel.
Every effort has been taken to be planet-friendly too, with many of the ingredients locally-sourced, no plastic straws and takeaway boxes made from recycled plant-based materials that are 100% plastic-free.
On the recommendation of the delightful GM Sumi Payne (ex Common Grounds), The Huntr ordered the vegan Pineapple Bowl (47AED). It’s crafted with pineapple, lime, papaya and mango, which is all blended and placed back inside the pineapple and topped with coconut cookies and cranberries. Light, fresh and healthy, it’s also picture-perfect. From the ‘Cheeky’ section of the menu we opted for the Waffle, Lotus Ice-Cream, Candied Peanuts, Chocolate Fudge and Dulce de Leche (49AED), which was utterly amazing and worth every calorie. And from the ‘Toasts’ section we couldn’t resist trying the Lobster Benny (65AED), which is comprised of pea tendrils, poached eggs, Béarnaise sauce and a charcoal bun. It was tasty but we would have loved to have seen a little more lobster (who wouldn’t) and a little less bun (although it’s worth noting that Troy did tell us later that most people eat it like a burger, so perhaps that’s where we were going wrong re: the bun).
From the mains, we opted for the vegetarian-friendly House-made Beetroot Tagliatelle (47AED), which comes with roasted walnuts, goats cheese, and burr noisette. The dish would have been perfect with a little more sauce and wetness, or thinner tagliatelle. The pasta was served al dente and because it’s quite thick, it overwhelmed our palate a little, forcing the other ingredients to the background.
Drinks-wise, Sanderson’s is alcohol-free and serves a variety of super-healthy vegan ‘Rainbow Lattes’, smoothies, juices and other soft drinks. The coffee is taken care of by the Gold Box Roastery in Dubai and the team told The Huntr that they are employing a “relaxed approach to coffee”. This is something that we personally feel needs to be re-thought, since the bar for coffee is being raised higher and higher every day throughout the UAE and whilst the flat whites and piccolos that we tried weren’t bad by any means – they weren’t the best we’ve tried. However, we did love that the baristas are using local milk from the Al Ain Dairy and house-made plant-based milk for those who prefer it.
All things considered, Sanderson’s is a fantastic addition to the Abu Dhabi dining scene. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a meal with friends, get some work done, chill out, kick back and relax in full vacation mode. What could be better than that? We’re already planning our return…
Insider tip: Last orders for the kitchen are at 9.30 pm.