Elijah Ferrian heads to the top of the Pullman to be dazzled by a fresh new standalone concept, Mad Cow Wine and Grill. Photos by Romain Garrigue.

If you’ve dined at a fancy hotel restaurant, you know what it’s like. It can be good, but it’s usually impersonal and rather forgettable.

Mad Cow is the opposite of any dull associations you may have with a restaurant in a major hotel, so erase all of that from your mind immediately.

Mad Cow Wine and Grill is well-designed, inviting, unpretentious and priced almost shockingly well for the real estate.

“We wanted to create something daring and new in terms of a hotel restaurant for Accor hotels,” says Tony Chisholm, general manager. “We’re really trying to convey to customers that hotels can have casual and accessible restaurant concepts. We’re priced unlike other hotels in the country and are like nothing else seen in Vietnam, or even Southeast Asia.”

When you come out of the lift and step into the restaurant you are immediately greeted with a large, cozy bar and a raging flame under an open grill that is the star of the kitchen.

This place does serious food and accompanies that with a spectacular focus on fine wine that is priced for the average person to be able to try out the selection without breaking the bank.

Danny Grimshaw, chef and butcher at Mad Cow, has the freedom to go crazy and take his cuisine anywhere he would like to.

The concept is produce-driven, very casual, almost a homely style of cuisine, and sourced primarily from Australia. “We pride ourselves on great steaks and seafood, with a grass-fed orientated menu.

Our supply chain is chilled all the way through, so we always know our food is fresh as possible. We understand that Vietnamese are becoming more concerned with where their food comes from.

We do paddock to plate as much as possible, and we aren’t messing around with the food very much. We let it speak for itself. We make good sauces and good sides to help showcase how inherently good everything is before we even put it on a plate.”

They do sharing boards of tapas at a really good price which is a perfect way to start at the bar before moving on to steaks for dinner.

Tapas are VND120,000 a piece, and up to six on one board for VND490,000. Sticky lamb ribs, pot sticker dumplings – pan-steamed with Wagyu beef, soy, chilli and coriander, croquettes with ham cheese and potato, fried chicken wings, falafel bites, chorizo empanadas, baby squid, patatas bravas and more round out the superb starters menu.

Braised lamb with hand-rolled gnocchi, mushroom and parmesan was well received at VND330,000. The Australian Shiraz at VND135,000 was a real treat to pair with the delicate lamb and meaty roasted mushroom flavours.

Mad Cow sports fifty wines by the bottle and fourteen by the glass. They rotate the selection as often as possible.

Steak. It’s really good here, and the sauces are what seriously take it up a couple notches compared to other locations priding themselves on their beef cuts.

A grass-fed flat-iron steak will run you VND460,000, while a 250g striploin of free range Wagyu beef comes in at VND1,100,000.   

Level 30, Pulman Hotel,  148 Tran Hung Dao Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: 028 3838 8639
4pm to 12am Everyday