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.

Filtering by Tag: American Express Fine Dining Awards

Why Twenty Twelve won't be 2012

Entrance to the Hartford Estate / Nicholas Goss (p)

Entrance to the Hartford Estate / Nicholas Goss (p)

"Good Conversation, Fine Wine and Classic Horses"

Mick Goss Summerhill CEO

Mick Goss
Summerhill CEO

Mick GossThere've been all sorts of predictions on how 2012 would turn out, not the least of which is the foreboding suggestion that the world will come to an end on the 21st December. By our calculations, that leaves most of us with about a week to live, but if you believe the movie "2012", there is salvation for anyone living within reach of the Drakensberg mountains. In that context, it's comforting to know that we're just over half an hour from Giant's Castle, and if what they have in mind is a flood of proportions to which only Noah can relate, there'll be time enough for anyone booked into Hartford House to make it up there as well. The point of my note is that if you don't already have a reservation at Hartford, get one because, in the same instant, you can enjoy a "Last Supper" before the curtain call at what is now officially KZN's Number One restaurant!

From an operational perspective though, we'd have to say that the outcome of the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale last month, is the principal reason why twenty twelve won't be 2012. By any stretch, the sale was a miracle, a tribute to good horses, good people and great customers, a convergence of all the ingredients in serendipity, and an alignment of the stars. Unless the Mayans had something else in mind, it seems that what they were predicting was that 2012 would be not so much the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning. In that case, we have much to look forward to in 2013, particularly if the market's assessment of our young stallions is any kind of yardstick. When it came to the Admire Mains, A.P. Arrows and the Mullins Bays, Ready To Run buyers voted with both feet, and the gratifying thing is that they had the benefit of hindsight at the gallops before they did so. For now, we can at least approach the New Year with positive anticipation. Despite a fairly significant reduction in broodmare numbers around the country, we've had an excellent season in the stallion barn, with encouraging demand for the new boys Visionaire, Golden Sword and Traffic Guard, while the vibes on the first of the Brave Tin Soldiers augurs well for their market debuts in the New Year.

Besides the frentics of the Ready To Run, 'tiz the season for awards, and the number of occasions we've had to don our dinner jackets in the past few months has me wondering whether there is time still for a final investment in a new tuxedo. Last time out, I was astonished to discover in my inner pocket, an invitation from the former Administrator of the old Natal, Stoffel Botha, to a function at King's House in 1983, and while that may be a compliment to the jacket's longevity, it's probably more an indication that this Zulu farmer either wears these things as little as possible, or that we just haven't won enough awards in the interim!

We never take these things for granted though, and they always come as a wonderful surprise. Often enough, they are a tribute to two great teams: an eighth Breeders' Championship, an award from each of Highveld and KZN Racing, and a string of podium visits at the KZN Breeders night out; for Hartford House, another national Top Ten Restaurant award, a sixth American Express Fine Dining accolade, the number one spot on the Top 100 SA Wine Lists and a Diamond class certificate from Diners International. That means those of us with a foot in both camps, have attended a lot of dinners lately. None of it possible without the support and encouragement of great friends and wonderful customers.

'Tiz also the season of many visitors, and this is the time when we top up our reserves of good conversation, fine wine and classic horses. If you're passing this way, please join us: we're bound to have other good friends from the neighbourhood. If not, this note comes with the best and the most grateful wishes of two of the best teams in their businesses.

As always, warmest regards,


Tiz The Season

Jackie Cameron receives the award for South Africa's Top Wine List in the Relaxed Dining category on behalf of Hartford House / Top 100 SA Wines (p)

Jackie Cameron receives the award for South Africa's Top Wine List in the Relaxed Dining category on behalf of Hartford House / Top 100 SA Wines (p)

Hartford's Wine List came out Number One, the only one marked 'Inspirational'

If you've been listening to East Coast Radio in the past couple of days, you'll have heard the name Hartford House many times for its distinction as the only KZN-based restaurant among Eat Out's national Top Ten. A few weeks before, chef Jackie Cameron's team were among the chosen few at the American Express Fine Dining Awards for the 7th cons

ecutive year, and within a blink of time, they earned themselves another Diners Club Diamond Award for one of the country's best wine lists.

We know they've been making headlines for a couple of years now, but the Hartford team takes nothing for granted, and the same goes for "big brother," Summerhill Stud. It seems that team has been on the podium for months too, with an eighth consecutive National Breeder's Championship, another statuette at the Highveld Racing Awards, and a string of distinctions at both the KZN Breeders and the KZN Racing "Nights of the Stars". That's an awful lot of dinners, if you happen to have a foot in both camps!

The latest one is as significant as any of them, and came our way last Sunday evening when the "Cameron Girl" winged her way once again to the Mother City to represent us at the Top 100Wine List Challenge for 2013. Remarkably (or perhaps not so remarkably for those of us who know how much work went into it,) in the Relaxed Dining category, Hartford's wine list came out Number One, the only one marked "Inspirational". Selecting wines may sound appealing to those of us who make the odd visit to a cellar on a Saturday morning for a bit of a "jolly", but this team puts in hours of labour, interviewing wine-makers, tasting and pairing, and in the end establishing a criteria that knows no exceptions. Good food, good wine and good company are the irredeemable passports to a memorable meal, but you'll never know what we mean until you've "done" us yourself. Yes, Hartford is all of these things, but it also represents the only venue of its kind in the nation. Visit www.hartford.co.za, and see what we mean.

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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.