This contemporary bakehouse and fine dining restaurant is the brainchild of Chef, Elizabeth Cottam (Head Chef and Founder of acclaimed Leeds restaurants HOME and The Owl).
Cora opened in May 2021 and has just gained a place in the Michelin guide. On Fridays and Saturdays, Cora offer a six course menu at £45pp, early doors from 5.00-6.00pm, and an eight course menu at £65pp after 7.00pm. The wine pairing to accompany this is £45pp for the six courses and £55pp for the eight course menu.
We were welcomed by manager and sommelier, Audrey. It became apparent quite early in the meal that Audrey understands her wines. I was surprised to see how busy they were at only 5.30pm. The restaurant quickly filled up. It’s unassuming and welcoming; unfussy with homely touches. You can’t enjoy a full tasting menu if it’s not served by passionate, knowledgeable staff who clearly love what they do. Without this, it’s just a meal and not an experience.
We were lucky that executive chef, Adam found time to chat with us throughout the evening, explaining that he changes the menu when he gets bored, usually every few weeks. This is very clearly his vocation and we enjoyed sitting next to the open pass where you can see the plates being meticulously designed and checked before heading off to their tables. Formally a chef at The Man Behind The Curtain in Leeds, it was unsurprising to see clever twists and phenomenal flavours in the artistically presented dishes.
We began our experience with Breads, Butters, Goats Cheese & Black Garlic, accompanied with Davenport, Sparkling Rosé Brut, which is a delightful English sparkling wine, swiftly followed by Chicken Liver Parfait & Onion Chutney with Brioche. Things began to get exciting with the Slow-Cooked Egg, Home-Cured Pork, Chicken Fat Dashi and Wild Garlic. The Dashi was poured at the table, which was a nice touch, and a generous variety of bread was left on the table - much to Phil’s delight. Perfect for mopping up the sauce. This was accompanied with a Chardonnay.
Our fourth course was a delight. Slow-Cooked Salmon (perfectly done), which was complemented with Creamed Leeks & Caviar: a delicate dish with texture. This was accompanied with a glass of Bacchus, Three Choirs which is an award winning wine from Gloucestershire. A perfect pairing, and my favourite wine of the evening with hints of nettles and elderflower and a zesty finish on the palate. They upped the ante with our fifth course of Beef Bavette, Black Pepper Puree & Bitter Leaves. Phil’s favourite dish, accompanied with the only red wine of the evening, Sangiovese, Era. Deep and plummy with hints of liquorice.
Whipped Choc Cake, Yogurt & Raspberry was a welcome light pre-dessert to savour before the least appealing dish on the menu to me which was Guinness Tart, Rye Cream. However, that’s the whole point in a tasting menu: the tasting of various foods to focus the senses and a chance to try something you might not normally choose. I was left pleasantly surprised. The South African Muscat served with our desserts, ironically called Heaven On Earth was just that, but I have always been a lover of dessert wines.
Cora provided us with a memorable dining experience. There was a harmonious progression from the first taste to the final bite of petit-four, made by Adam himself, which we enjoyed with a coffee. I’d sum this up as a fun, inviting tasting menu with a carefully balanced selection of textures and flavours with strong visual impact.
I wanted to mention the variety of offerings I spied, including Brunch Tasting from Wednesday to Sunday at £30pp and a Sunday Lunch menu with a dedicated Yorkshire pudding course for £36pp. Alternatively, their bakehouse sells breads, cakes and pastries which are baked onsite, fresh daily to take away. I couldn’t add these in without sampling myself first, so I’m pleased to recommend the Croissants, Cinnamon Buns and my absolute favourite bread with Black Truffle. They even offer a bread subscription.
162 High Street,
Leeds LS23 6BW