Snuggled in the midst of what seems to be a concrete-heavy industrial estate is the sophisticated gem that is Cona. A diamond amongst the rubble, if you may. It aims for the heights of sophistication; Leather embossed menu, faux fur throws, awkwardly stylish artpieces; that kind of restaurant. Our very own GBBO winner Nadiya tells me it’s one of her favourite restaurants, so there must be something about it.
At its core, however, Cona is a steakhouse, specialising in premium quality steaks and cuts of meat. if you’re a vegetarian, there are perfectly suitable options on the menu for you, but it’s a bit like going to a pub when you don’t drink alcohol.
Armi, the chef and owner of Cona, shows us the different cuts of steak that’s on offer, just in case you’re not quite sure what a ‘tomahawk’ or a ‘sirloin’ steak is. He talks you through where his meat is sourced, which is quite important for the ethically-counscious consumer. Organic. Well-treated. Corn-fed. You begin to wonder whether the animal has lived a better life than you.
I get on to ordering some starters. Charcuterie, which normally contains pork, has cured beef and lamb as replacements. It’s the only halal charcuterie i’ve ever come across, in fact. Peppered with olives and pesto, it’s acidic touch balances the earthy cured meat perfectly. Order a side of garlic bread and this could be the perfect stand-alone lunch.
I also ordered truffle gnochi which was creamy and delicious in its own right, but I must bring your attention to their bone marrow with onions. What seems to be just a giant bone fit for a dinosaur to chew on, it is in fact a delicately spiced, tender dish served with crispy bread straight out of the oven. Spread the aromatic marrow onto the bread and enjoy what, i believe, is a triumph in sophisticated dining.
The mains are a far simpler affair. The focus is solely on the meat. Yes, you can order sides and gravies, but you want the steak to speak for itself. I order the sirloin, rump, and veal steaks. As always, i prefer the rump, but both the sirloin and the veal steaks are incredibly tender and have a creamy, melt-in-the-mouth texture. Do not bloody waste the delicate flavour of the steak by having it cooked any more than medium. You can have it with peppercorn sauce, but i suggest going for the beef jus and, of course, triple cooked chips on the side. Any dish without starchy carbs on the side is only half a dish. There are plenty of sides to choose from, but i really think you should keep it clean and simple. Avoid the caramelised carrots, or the creamed spinach, not that there’s anything wrong with them, but a beautifully cooked steak demands a robust mash or a crispy chip to be eaten with.
All the gravies, and side dishes are made in-house, of course. Armi tells me they also make the bread, the pastry, the sauces, and the drinks in-house, too. I was almost half-expecting him to tell me they make the tablecloths and lamp fittings in the back too.
The dessert. Of course, you’ll be tempted to go straight for the chocolate fondant as all lovers of food are, and you won’t leave disappointed if you do, but, if i can persuade you to try the pistachio tart i can promise you it’ll transport your tastebuds straight to the spice markets of Iran. When you think pistachio is merely a singular monotonous flavour, Armi manages to create a symphony of flavour notes in your mouth. The pistachio is both sweet and warm, aromatic and sharp. Balanced with the acidic tang of their cherry compote, and the beautifully velvety almond ice cream, you’ll begin to demand the entire tart as opposed to just a slice.
Now, is Cona perfect? No. The young staff look as though they’re on work experience from their local school and, whilst all their food is utterly delicious, it’s not cheap, plus it’s in Bradford; somewhere you just don’t expect Cona to be. Having said that, Cona is a destination restaurant. It’s somewhere you travel to go, to experience, even if you live 120 miles away. It’s somewhere to take your partner to on an anniversary, or go to treat yourself if you’re down. It’s somewhere you go if you want to experience luxury or, like me, if you just want to go somewhere who actually knows how to cook a bloody good steak properly. If you’re Muslim, it’s probably the only fine-dining establishment that is 100% halal outside of london, too. I don’t say this often, but if you haven’t been to Cona before. Go. It’s something you must tick off your bucket list. If you have been before, go again. Cona have also very kindly offered all of my review readers a FREE mocktail with any meal they order. All you have to say is ‘Ali Imdad sent me here’. (Go for the mango mocktail. you won’t regret it).