We arrived at Hartford House to celebrate my wife's birthday with high expectations - we left very disappointed and somewhat angry.
The set-menu was interesting and we did look forward to it. The 5 course meal was served in one sitting - all 36-odd plates at once. The problem is that those who received their food last generally got cold food - it happened to us twice.
A major problem was timing. We were seated in a timely fashion, but the service was extremely slow and inefficient as it took a long time to get wine ordered/served. We sat down at 7:25pm and it took over 2 hours to serve the first 3 (of 5) courses. The kitchen/service was way too slow - we were really hungry for the first 2 hours and by the time the main course (#4) arrived, we were over-tired. Overall it took almost 3 hours for a 5-course meal which is too long, especially as the last 2 courses were served in the last 30 min. We noticed other guests almost run out of the dining room when they were finished eating.
The food highlight was the freshly baked breads - superb! The food generally was very technical and beautifully presented but it ultimately comes down to taste. The first 3 courses were interesting and tasty. The main was cold when it arrived and as we were really tired by then, we probably did not fully appreciate the offering. Dessert (a take on a frozen Dom Pedro) was not too my liking but I will put that down to personal preference.
Unfortunately Chef Jackie was not working the night we were there - maybe that had something to do with our the disappointing experience. She clearly has some well-trained technical chefs working for her in the kitchen, but they could not get the food out fast enough.
Service was the biggest issue. The staff are clearly not well-enough trained. One of the waitresses was impossible to understand even though we speak S-African English fairly well.
Last but not least: we did let management know about our dissatisfaction but all we heard were excuses - no apology was offered.
Our unfortunate take-away is that Hartford House is somewhat arrogant in their attitude, lacking in their execution, and not worth the money they charge.
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