"For this month's Story of a Plate feature we enjoyed a lovely and unusual combination of smoked trout and guava at the picturesque Hartford House in the KZN Midlands. We chatted to chef Constantijn Hahndiek (Tijn, to his friends) about what inspired the plate." - Rossouw's Restaurants by Diners ClubRead More
Filtering by Tag: Diners Club
It is part of the Hartford House experience to find oneself drawn into the pages of the best regional winelist awarded Diamond status recently at the prestigious Diners Club Winelist Awards.Read More
Hartford House, the fabled five-star boutique hotel set in the almost impossibly picturesque Giant’s Castle valley just outside Mooi River, has a reputation for warm hospitality and culinary excellence going back 140 years – to when it was the home of Sir Frederick Moor, the last prime minister of the Colony of Natal.Read More
For the sixth consecutive year, Hartford House is extremely proud to have been awarded Diamond Status for our Winelist at the 2014 Diners Club International Winelist Awards.Read More
Diners Club Diamond Winelist Award
(Photo : Leigh Willson)
Hartford House is extremely proud to have our Winelist awarded Diamond status, for the fifth consecutive year, at the 2013 Diners Club Winelist Awards!
Diners Club Wine List Awards
James Bond's originator, Ian Fleming once announced that "Diamonds Are Forever", and whilst you can't claim "life membership" of the club, Hartford House were awarded one of only a handful of Diamond Class Wine List accolades for the fifth consecutive year in the prestigious Diners Club contest.
As the only KZN restaurant featuring in the nation's "Top Ten," this is another feather in the cap, of a team who are not passionate about food and wine - they're obsessed!
DINERS CLUB WINE LIST AWARDS 2012
There are just a handful of hospitality establishments in the land that can celebrate a Diners Club Diamond Class wine list, and Hartford House is among them. Yet Hartford is unique, inasmuch as it is among a select few countrywide to have enjoyed the highest recognition of its wine selection by Diners Club in their annual awards for 10 consecutive years, and coming as it does hard on the heels of the announcement that Hartford's restaurant has once again made the nation's top twenty, this "Diamond" is especially welcome.
"Diners Club Diamond Class Wine List Award"
The highest accolade a restaurant can earn itself in the beverage league, is a Diamond award for its wine list. For well over a decade, Hartford's wines have enjoyed recognition at the highest level, and it has just earned its eleventh Diners Club Diamond Class award.
We have prided ourselves in providing visitors with an experience which ranks in every division of our business, with the best in the world, hence the adage "the only world class hotel on a world class stud farm in the world". The plaudits on the food side have been many and varied, and Jackie Cameron, our Head Chef, has become a national and international celebrity. We get one chance every year when it comes to the beverages, so there are no rehearsals, and it's a great compliment to the team, Ainsley Williams, Scott Morgan, Mbulelo Mahlungulu and the rest of the front-of-house team, that they should have once again made it to the summit of the mountain.
We are lucky to live where we do, and especially to work with the people around us. Between Summerhill Stud (crowned just a month and a half ago for the seventh consecutive year as the Champion racehorse breeders of the nation), and Hartford House, we have aspired to do nothing more than our best and a bit more, and this is one of the ultimate accolades. That said, without the encouragement of our customers, who give us the chance to serve, none of this would've been possible. To all of you who patronise our business and get us up in the mornings, thank you.
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HOUSE AND LEISURE-VISA BEST SA RESTAURANT
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
AMERICAN EXPRESS WINNING MOST RESTAURANTS
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 Strugo, Lannice 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.
Paula Mackenzie receives the Diners Club Diamond Wine List Award on behalf of Hartford House
"DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER"
James Bond’s originator, Ian Fleming, once proclaimed that “Diamonds are forever”, and whilst you can’t say there is any permanence about your status as holding one of the best wine lists in the nation, Hartford House was on Monday night awarded one of only two Diamond class accolades in KZN, in the revered Diners Club annual contest.
Holders for nine consecutive years of the Platinum Award, Diamond wine lists are as rare as needles in a haystack, and this one comes alongside Hartford’s standing as the only KZN restaurant to feature in the nation’s Top Ten.
"Form is temporary : CLASS IS PERMANENT"
There’s an old saying in the racing world that you might fluke the odd big performance, but it’s the ability to consistently achieve at the top level that’s the real mark of quality. The magnitude of Hartford House’s Top Ten Restaurant Award last Sunday evening, is only just beginning to sink in, and the extent of it is quietly coming home to us.
The reality is that none of these achievements are overnight occurrences, and they’re no different to winning Breeders’ Championships. We know what it took to put a team together capable of landing the spoils in the horse business, and the sustained record of four consecutive championships has been the product of almost 30 years of blood, sweat and tears.
In Hartford’s case, the journey started almost eight years ago, with the recruitment of a man by the name of Richard Carstens, who came to us with the option of working at Hartford or at our new venture at the time, Lynton Hall. As it turned out, despite Hartford’s own requirements, we felt that Lynton’s need was the greater because it was in its infancy, and after eight months at Hartford, Richard relocated to the coastal resort, where he took Lynton to a top ten finish in the national awards, and in the end, was elected the nation’s top chef.
As Richard was departing for Lynton Hall, we discovered a waif-like Thespian, who had already spent a year at the Mount Grace Country House & Spa, in the form of Pietermaritzburg born and raised Jackie Cameron, and she proceeded to beaver away as industriously as anyone we’ve ever come across in an already industrious team. Though wet behind the ears, Jackie quickly revealed an underlying potential that’s rare not only in people of her age, but uncommonly so in older people too. It wasn’t long before local critics nabbed onto her coattails, and began to invest in her growth. People like Mechthild Yorke-Mitchell, then restaurant critic for Wine Magazine, Anne Stevens of The Mercury, Derek Taylor of the Sunday Tribune, and latterly and very significantly, Victor Strugo of The Saturday Star, who has been a powerful personal mentor to Jackie. All of them caught onto the fire that was raging at Hartford.
Of course, there's been many other accolades, and last year the Hartford restaurant made the Dine Top 10: Deluxe 2008 voted by Diners club international & Wine magazine, but the Prudential Eat-Out Restaurant Awards are the summit of them all, and to have achieved this is the ultimate for any young chef or restaurant anywhere.
The point of this is that under Cheryl’s tutelage, in the relatively short space of 12 years, we’ve seen the emergence of two national celebrities in the culinary game, and it’s all a result of a sustained obsession that goes beyond perfection.
There’s no team in the world that can appreciate the significance of Hartford better than that at Summerhill. We know what it takes, and we understand what it is that keeps you there. Class, class and more class, and nothing less than class.