Five Courses Of Beautiful, Fascinating, Deliciousness
Dinner at Hartford House is a spectacular five-course affair, served in the grandeur of a timeless dining room, or in the candlelit splendour of one of Africa's great verandas. Hartford House is surrounded by lush gardens and specialist farms producing some of the finest ingredients a chef could wish for. At Hartford House you can feel the passion in every meal reflecting their obsession with perfection. Hartford House is situated in one of the planet's great pantries, a world of rich soils, a wonderful climate and bountiful harvests. "In season" and local, are their keys.
An intimate and romantic setting awaits you at Hartford House, voted in the Top Five Restaurants in the country in 2013; this really is a culinary experience in every sense of the word. Each course that is served by the talented duo in the Hartford House kitchen, Travis Finch and Brendan Ryan, creates an explosion of flavour. The inventive choice of serving platters adds to the experience of dining. Black slate, taupe sandstone and light stone all form a palette, on which daily specialities are served.
At Hartford house it all about fine dining without the pompousness. The staff are well-trained and are passionate about every individual guest's experience. You can expect to be met with a beautiful smile together with a relaxed friendly atmosphere. An air of calmness and warmth fills the restaurant. "Hartford House is unique venue." Explains Chef Travis, "Here my food is explained to our patrons and each dish is introduced in it entirety. We know where each ingredient for our dishes comes from and we love supporting the local artisan producers. We like to think that our food is innovative and relevant."
Chef Travis' warmth and the gentle soul is what powers his creativity. Having travelled extensively around the world he has managed to capture the unique essence of food preparations and introduced it to the kitchen here in the KZN Midlands. Chef Travis' food is not just beautiful to look at; it came across most strongly in the presentation and the complex combinations of flavours. Hay smoked asparagus was one of my favourites.
Travis' love affair with food started relatively late in life. In fact, he wanted to be a professional rugby player but it was not to be and an Italian girlfriend first introduced him to serious cuisine - at the age of seventeen. Travis perfected a complicated dish of Oxtail Risotto with Sangiovese Grapes. Today Travis still remembers that important moment when he felt the deep, meaty flavour of oxtail, which mellowed the dryness of sangiovese, allowing the grape to caress the tongue.
Built in 1875, this inn is steeped in history and misty beauty. High up on the Midlands Meander, in the foothills of the Drakensberg, and adjacent to the Summerhill Racing Stud, it's a deliciously luxurious, if rather formal, escape for the lucky few. A few of the suites are in the original house; others front an ethereal, lovely lake. Each suite is different, decorated in a gloriously eclectic collision of fabrics and furnishings from Africa, Europe, and the East. The food, which has garnered top honours, is just as rich and eclectically surprising. Dinner (R325 for a five-course set menu, reservations essential), which the chefs start preparing at dawn, is an unforgettable event with wines to match. Summerhill Stud, the neighbouring thoroughbred racehorse stud farm, is a great place to visit if you have a few hours.