Dippers, a new home-grown eatery in Abu Dhabi, is dip loads of fun
Tucked inside a nondescript building in Khalidiya, next to Spar Hypermarket, is a new restaurant that’s generating a lot of buzz. Dippers is a home-grown concept dreamt up by Emirati entrepreneur Eissa Al Ghais, which is, as the name suggests, all about the dips.
The restaurant is run by the French head chef Eric Tavernier, classically trained and the owner of Chef Eric’s Cooking School. Tavernier’s menu features a wide range of dishes that come ready to dunk in one of the 27 carefully crafted dips.
“The dips are made on a daily basis,” says Tavernier. “They’re available every day – we have barbecue sauce, homemade mayonnaise, tapenades, baba ghanoush, hummus, blue cheese. We don’t make home-made ketchup yet, but we soon will.”
In the seven weeks since Dippers opened, the sloppy joe sliders have been the best-selling dish, paired with a fondue-like provolone dip.
The most popular dips are the honey mustard and roasted garlic. Some of the more unusual ones include red-honey glaze, caponata, roasted apple and tomato, spicy kimchi, jalapeño and the formidable inferno TNT.
It’s not only the dips that are home-made. The bread and rolls are baked each day by the restaurant’s lone baker, and even the French fries and ice cream are prepared by hand.
While salads and soups are also on the menu, the rest of the dishes are more or less dip-friendly: tiger prawns, Mexican sliders, fried Gouda and Parmesan balls, chicken wings, a smoked chicken sandwich and a vegetable platter.
“Coming up with the menu was difficult,” says Tavernier, “but I now have 150 recipes for this place that are in a safe. We will continue to add more dishes to the menu.”
One that he’s just come up with is a pulled-lamb slider made with saffron and mint. “This is definitely going on the menu,” he says. “I just tried it. It’s good.”
With a set of three sliders ranging in price from Dh31 to Dh43, it’s an affordable venue where guests will be dipping deep into their food and not their wallets.
• Dippers is open every day from noon until midnight, and until 1am on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Call 02 666 9297 or visit www.facebook.com/dippersrestaurant
Khalidiya has several eateries that have built a loyal following despite somewhat hard-to-find, out-of-the-way locations. Here are five of the best.
The Japanese cafe offers up excellent sushi, a range of interesting main dishes and it even has a bakery. For a quick bite, try the Wagyu gyoza, little dumplings packed with Wagyu beef (Dh38). For something more substantial, order the beef tenderloin saikoro with kazami wasabi sauce (Dh40). Sushi-lovers must try the tuna foie gras uramaki (Dh115). Grab some shokupan bread on your way out (Dh15) and make your own French toast with it the next morning. Call 02 667 7557.
Saudi Cuisine VIP
Duck into this hidden gem for lunch or dinner. The portions are large, so bring a friend. Try the chicken mandi (Dh40) – rice cooked in a wood-fired tandoor clay oven with chicken and spices – (the lamb mandi is Dh85). Finish the meal with some sweet kunafa (Dh20). To get the full experience, take your shoes off and sit on the floor in one of the traditional seating areas. Call 02 665 5355.
This restaurant has two completely different menus – Japanese and Italian – and they’re both doing well. You can’t go wrong with the vast sushi menu (try the Ferrari roll with prawns, eel, avocado, tobiko, spring onion and spicy dressing for Dh76). If you’re in the mood for pasta, opt for the lasagne al forno (Dh52), a layered heap of Italian goodness with home-made noodles, Bolognese and béchamel sauce, and Parmesan cheese. Call 02 650 5600.
Got a big appetite? Pop into this American-style diner and order the flavour-packed King Elvis burger – a massive two-patty burger with lettuce, tomatoes, mushrooms, jalapeños, caramelised onions, red peppers, cheese, pickles and the diner’s famous secret sauce (Dh49). Grab a creamy, rich chocolate milkshake (Dh23) on the way out. Call 02 633 3508.
This casual doner cafe is the new kid on the block in the area and offers Turkish-inspired shawarmas for a good price – chef Muhittin Kazan has been making shawarmas for more than 30 years. Try the chicken shawarma (Dh8) or grab a shawarma plate (Dh30). Call 02 665 0303.