New restaurant launches in CBD in ‘a leap of faith’

2012-02-02 00:00

DEDICATED to her late father’s passion for fine dining, a well-known Pietermaritzburg businesswoman recently launched a new restaurant in the CBD, evoking the era of the 1960s and ’70s.

The establishment is modelled on older, well-known city restaurants like Le Chalet, White Mischief, Els Amics and the Imperial Hotel’s Oak Room.

Given the proliferation of franchise restaurants, an independent establishment of this nature is a rarity, even for a smaller city like Pietermaritzburg.

The owner of Heritage Guest House, Penny Hatting (57), established Trafford’s Restaurant in memory of her late father, Trafford Swanepoel.

The establishment is on a property adjacent to her guest house in Miller Street, a heritage building constructed in the late 1800s, and Hatting has ensured that it retains much of its character.

“It’s what a restaurant was like in the ’60s and ’70s. My father, who was a businessman in the legal fraternity, loved fine food and fine restaurants and he would take us to many restaurants around the country, particularly when we were on holiday. I have created the restaurant around him. It epitomises the fine dining I was exposed to in this era.”

The décor comprises — among other elements — elegant wallpaper, old Oregon pine floors and South African artworks.

“I have collected silver, which I use in the restaurant. I also created a feature at the entrance using old cuttings from the men’s magazine Esquire.”

Hatting employs 10 full-time and part-time staff , including seven at the restaurant.

While the restaurant is a serious business, Hatting conceded that the move represented “a leap of faith” in terms of its viability as a business.

“I hope that Pietermaritzburg supports me. I believe that there is nothing like it in the city.

“So far we have found the goodwill of Pietermaritzburg residents to be overwhelming. People have been generous with their support and good wishes.”

Hatting has worked in the food industry for more than 30 years, initially with a city catering company known as Food with Finesse. She established Heritage House in 2000 and opened the Artist’s Palate Restaurant at the Tatham Art Gallery in 2003. She then moved on to the Strelitzia Room Restaurant at the Botanical Gardens, which she ran between 2007 and 2011.

Hatting, who completed a cordon bleu course at the Christina Martin School of Food, has trained the chefs at Trafford’s Restaurant.

She is passionate about preparing “real good and honest food made from the finest and freshest ingredients”.

Her lunch menu offers dishes such as rosemary-infused chicken and mushroom pie, smoked salmon, grilled haloumi and avocado salad. Entrées include home-made tomato soup with basil and chilli ice cream and phyllo snail parcels with honey cream sauce. Among the main dishes are orange-infused oxtail served with mashed potato and porcini mushrooms with truffle oil served on pasta.

“It’s a small menu, but the food is made with incredible care and attention to detail,” Hatting said.

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