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Hartford House

Hartford House
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Cost
Lunch R395pp (two courses) or R495 pp (three courses). Dinner R620pp (six-course tasting menu) with optional wine pairing R400pp
Ambience
Groups, Local cuisine
Food
Fine-dining food, Modern
Payment
Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Corkage
R100

Critic's review

Linda Scarborough

Food

Each dish at this destination restaurant tells a story of the area, with nods to local producers that feel so much more than perfunctory – they truly are the stars of the show. At the outset chef Constantijn Hahndiek comes to introduce himself and the dishes. (All allergies and intolerances are announced when you make your reservation, so chances are you’ll love everything on your plate.)

The meal starts with artisanal breads. The beautiful little warmed rolls come with a perfect quenelle of creamy butter. The next plate, named Indezi River, is truly breathtaking in its elegant simplicity, lightness and presentation. Creamed chevin (the producer of which lends the dish its name) shares the stage with a tangy salad of strawberry and local sorrel (foraged by the kitchen team), with a fresh mint granita and delicate slices of white and pink radishes to echo the colour theme.

Next is a dish of Wayfarer trout, tender and rosy, which is served with little Jerusalem artichoke crisps, crackly skin and an umami-rich soya broth poured over at the table.

The Midlands area is known for its beef, and the next dish of aged sirloin proves why. The perfectly cooked meat is intensely flavourful, paired gloriously with earthy amadumbe and a soil of roast field mushrooms. An amuse-bouche of 'gin and tonic' is a lively and playful bowl, with a kick of booze in the gorgeously tart jellies.

Another producer is highlighted in Blue Orange Farms oven-roasted duck. The bird is pink, with crispy skin, served on a spicy citrus and complex butternut espuma with onion crumble. It’s another appealing and tasty dish.

The dessert on the night, simply named Chestnuts and Chocolate, rivals the first cheese course in its prettiness, featuring shards, creams and curls that incorporate crowd-pleasing chocolate, nuts and coffee.

Drinks

The wine list is a tome, featuring pages of anything your heart might desire. Each course is paired with a wine, which you can order by the glass (but only if someone else at the seating is doing the pairing). Top wine names like La Motte,
Tokara, Ataraxia and Paul Cluver make an appearance.

Service

Warm and personal. Front of house Duncan Bruce stops by each table to share details about the dishes, check on things and chat.

Ambience

Every detail of the experience is sumptuous and of the highest quality. The colonial-style stone terrace is softened by silver-patterned linen tablecloths and upholstered chairs. You walk through gorgeously decorated rooms complete with artworks, richly draped fabrics, chandeliers and graceful furniture.

And…

If the budget allows, it’s recommended that you stay over, if only so you don’t have to find your way in the dark. You will need all your faculties, plus Google maps and likely some phone calls to the hotel, to make it there if you’re going at night, as the dark farm roads offer no lighting.

(August 2017)

Eat Out critics dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here

  • Ambience
  • Service
  • Food

Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Accommodation
  • Booking required
  • Child friendly
  • Cocktails
  • Dog-friendly
  • Dress code
  • Fireplace
  • Functions
  • Licensed
  • Parking
  • StreetSmart affliated
  • Wheelchair
  • WiFi

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