Hartford House

The Home of Good Conversation, Fine Wine and Classic Horses.

Award-winning hotel and restaurant situated at Summerhill Stud on the picturesque KwaZulu-Natal Midlands Meander, South Africa.

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American Express Platinum Fine Dining at Hartford House

Hartford House
Mooi River, KwaZulu-Natal
South Africa

The American Express Platinum Fine Dining programme awards restaurants for their excellence in fine dining! Hartford House was recently the subject of an American Express Platinum Card-sponsored television feature on SABC 3's Expresso Breakfast Show... not to be missed.

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Hartford House scores Platinum at AMEX Fine Dining Awards

Head Chef Jackie Cameron and Hartford GM Vanessa Coetzee receive Hartford's AMEX Platinum Award / American Express (p)

Head Chef Jackie Cameron and Hartford GM Vanessa Coetzee receive Hartford's AMEX Platinum Award / American Express (p)


The recipients of the 2013 American Express Fine Dining Awards were announced recently and we're proud at Hartford House to have been awarded the Platinum accolade; counting Hartford among the nation's most prestigious fine dining establishments. This is the 15th year in which the Awards have been held and sitting on the judging panel were renowned food critic Victor Strugo, food writer Anna Trapido and Cape Town-based 'foodie' Tamsin Snyman, assisted by a team of anonymous and experienced assessors. Congratulations to Head Chef Jackie Cameron, GM Vanessa Coetzee and the entire Hartford Team.


American Express Awards 2011

Victor Strugo, Jackie Cameron and Vanessa Singh
(Photo : Hartford House)


As matriculants prepare for their final exams and the last of their school days, our minds turn to prize-giving. In the culinary world, it's no different, as the various gourmet critics put their final pens to paper, and national competitions draw to a close.

One accolade Hartford has always treasured is the American Express Fine Dining Awards, not only for what the certificate represents on the restaurant's wall, but for the respect we have for its organisers, and especially for Victor Strugo, who holds a place among the world's most discerning food critics, let alone South Africa's.

Victor has been a deep inspiration to our team at Hartford House, and a guiding light to Jackie Cameron since her earliest days, when he first discovered her rare talent. Victor knows that at Hartford we operate in unusual circumstances, remote from most of the world, and with people who started out in life with little or no skills to speak of. Over the years, he has watched as young ladies from our community with limited educational qualifications, have grown to the point of representing this country in places like Zurich, Prague and Shangai. Victor's role with us has not been confined to the awarding of prizes; it's been an upliftment project which has changed lives.

Behind these awards is a lovely lady, Vanessa Singh. American Express are lucky to have her; her enthusiasm is infectious, her organisational capacity is evident in the way these awards are managed, and as a member of the previously disadvantaged community herself, she has scaled every ladder there has been to climb.

This past week, Jackie Cameron and one of her assistants Delli Nene, made the pilgrimage to Byzance in Lonehill, where Hartford picked up its 6th consecutive American Express Platinum banner.


"... Spring is a glorious time at Hartford" / Barbara Meier (p)

"... Spring is a glorious time at Hartford" / Barbara Meier (p)


It’s a glorious time at Hartford, and it was in spring that our garden first earned its accolades at the The Witness Garden Show more than twenty years ago. By the end of this month and well into October, both Hartford and Summerhill will be a profusion of rosebuds, flowering cherries, and the wisteria will be weighed down by its beautiful mauve petals.

By heavens though, we don’t remember a spring of so much celebration. Within the past fortnight, Hartford earned one of only two Diners’ Club Diamond Winelist awards in KZN with our old friends, the Beverley Hills, a fine compliment to all the work our hotel manager, Paula Mackenzie has put into her maiden effort.

The restaurant also took its fifth consecutive American Express Fine Dining Award in Johannesburg, and now comes the news that the readers of South   Africa’s most widely publicized lifestyle magazine, House and Leisure, have voted Hartford House the best restaurant in the land in their Visa Best of SA competition. Now that’s quite a statement, considering that a world “Top Fifty” venue, the Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francaise, and last year’s “Eat Out” National Number One restaurant, Le Colombe, were among the finalists.

Most Hartford fans know of our proud affiliation to the Land Of Legends, South Africa’s only collection of properties connected through a mutual celebration of history, tradition and culture. Besides this unique “glue” in our respective make-ups, Phinda Private Game Reserve, Rocktail Bay Camp, Fordoun Spa and Hartford House all have exceptional records of social upliftment and environmental preservation (www.landoflegends.co.za).

Three of these, Hartford’s Restaurant, Phinda’s Homestead Lodge, and Fordoun’s Spa were nominated finalists in their respective categories of the House and Leisure competition, and quite amazingly, all three made it to the top spot on the podium. As much as this is a wonderful accolade for the Land Of Legends as a brand, speaking as it does not only of excellence but of depth and diversity too, it’s also a tribute to KwaZulu Natal as a world-class travel destination, which stands alone when it comes to value.

To those of you who rallied to our cause and voted for us and our Land  Of Legends colleagues in the House and Leisure competition, may we add our heartfelt thanks for the trouble. We were up against the best here, and we understand there were more than 100 000 votes cast, so every single one mattered.

Wait a minute though, that’s not the lot. The champagne had scarcely run out, when head chef Jackie Cameron was notified once again that we’d made the finals for the Eat Out Top Ten, but we’ll have to await our fate in November for that one.

As we write, the Hilton Drama Festival is under way, one of the nation’s hottest expressions of the performing arts, and the wonders of nature have new revelations for us every day in the Summerhill foaling barn, were the champions of tomorrow are being brought into the world in some earnest.

Come and see us, we long for your return. If you can get here before the end of October, as an established Hartford customer, we’ll book you at our winter rate. We can’t promise that for November or December sadly, as advance bookings from our friends from abroad tell us that with value-for-money being the clarion call of most travellers these days, places of Hartford’s distinction are going to be in high demand. 


Pamela White, Tania Maree, Vanessa Singh, Jackie Cameron, Victor Strugo

Pamela White, Tania Maree, Vanessa Singh, Jackie Cameron, Victor Strugo


It’s often been said that the great financial sage, Warren Buffet’s, winning-most investments were Coca-Cola and American Express, and American Express’ winning-most restaurants were announced at a gala function in Johannesburg on Monday night.  We’d scarcely dried the ink on Hartford House’ Diners Club Diamond Wine List Award, than we were greeted with the news that the culinary giants, Victor StrugoLannice Snyman andVanessa Singh were among those that had selected Hartford’s restaurant, it’s celebrated young chef Jackie Cameron, and the talented cooking and hospitality teams behind them, among just four KZN based restaurants in the fine dining categories.

Just a fortnight ago, Shaun Munroe of Durban’s grand old dame, the Beverley Hills, joined Jackie in a chef exchange between the two gourmet gems, and it was gratifying to see the Beverley  Hills and Andrew Draper among those locally based eateries, walking away with “gongs”.

Within the month we’ll know how Hartford fared as one of five finalists in House and Leisure’s national restaurant of the year, so (its..... award of the past twelve months) Hartford’s not just about being the only world class hotel on a world class stud farm.  It’s right up there with the best restaurants in the world, and if you think that’s stretching it, give it a shot.

Hartford through connoisseur, Victor Strugo's eyes


Fine Cuisine
(Hartford House)

Fine food connoisseur Victor Strugo, always wildly enthusiastic about Hartford - its culinary excellence and the Wellness Centre - had this to say after a recent visit:

“At the risk of sounding predictable, you have again thrilled us with your wizardry and warmed our hearts with your welcome.  Coming to Hartford has become for us something like visiting heaven – it is just a totally different dimension from everyday life, and a significant part of its magic is created in your kitchen.

"We loved both the quiet intimate Monday dinner and Tuesday’s festive party.  Both menus were very impressive, particularly Tuesday’s which I thought very bold for dispensing altogether with fish and giving a succession of intensely flavoured meats.  But you (referring to Jackie Cameron, head chef at Hartford House) paced it wonderfully - the quantities were not overwhelming, the spicy variation held the interest and complex-sounding combinations proved to be totally harmonious dishes, and all beautifully presented.  Also, each dish had a surprise that gave it freshness and originality – I never would have thought that truffle-scenting brinjals would work so well, the candied vegetables were perfect (and beautiful) with that awesome duck and the brittle’s texture and flavour just finished off the dessert perfectly.

"The personal touch was very apparent even in the picnic basket that we enjoyed on the way to Joburg on Wednesday and finished in the office that afternoon.  Your home-made chocolates are wonderful and the description sheet was very thoughtful!"

Victor’s acclaimed fields of expertise include: Le GastroGnome, Saturday Star; Classic Feel Magazine; Wine Magazine; National Selector, American Express Fine Dining Programme; Regional Selection Panel, The World's 50 Best Restaurants