A regional culinary hotspot since time immemorial, Bandung finally gets its own, proper New York-style grill
Bandung, the provincial capital of West Java, has always been a popular destination for weekend getaways and culinary expeditions. The so-called Paris of Java is, to put it mildly, foodie heaven. So, it goes without saying that for a new F&B venue to really stand out, it has to be exceptional. As it happens, however, one of the recent high-profile additions to Bandung’s food map is more than just exceptional.
Meet Mad Cow Wine and Grill at Pullman Bandung Grand Central.
Now, seasoned travellers might recognize the name as there’s a famous eatery with the same name at Pullman Saigon Centre in Ho Chi Minh City and Pullman Phu Quoc Beach Resort, both in Vietnam. Like its overseas siblings, Bandung’s Mad Cow Wine and Grill is a proper, authentic New York-style grill combined with an urban wine bar with a nice selection of wines and cocktails, wrapped in a venue inspired by the roaring ’20s.
Golden Rays and Olden Days
When you arrive at Mad Cow Wine and Grill – which is located on the 17th floor of Pullman Bandung Grand Central – you’re greeted by Maddie, the red Highland Cow mascot of the establishment. Past the entrance, you’ll immediately catch a glimpse of the open kitchen on the right and the bar to the left. Maddie’s Bar opens at 4PM (Wednesdays through Sundays), while the restaurant opens at 6PM. It’s definitely worth your while to come in early and enjoy an hour or two lounging in the bar while sipping a cocktail or two, or browse through the venue’s impressive selection of wines – which, interestingly, is offered at retail prices.
As it happens, coming in around 4 to 6 PM also gives you an amazing view of the city and the distant mountains just as twilight starts to set in. The bar’s Parisian ambience, with touches of red and gold, certainly sets the right tone for a relaxed evening out.
It’s in the dining area, however, where the roaring ’20s feel really kicks in. It should be pointed out, however, that Mad Cow’s has a uniquely “Bandung in the ’20s” vibe, which is highlighted, in particular, by the ornate arches under the ceiling reminiscent of the ones adorning Stasiun Hall – Bandung’s main train station. The architecture of the station, particularly its southern side, was heavily remodelled in the late ’20s by legendary architect E.H. de Roo (who also worked on the nearby Gedung Sate, by the way) in the Art Deco style.
History trivia aside, the design of Mad Cow’s dining area creates the perfect elevated ambience for a nice steak dinner. Speaking of which…
Wine and Dine
As the name of the place suggests, Mad Cow Wine and Grill is heaven for steak lovers. The restaurant champions a paddock-to-plate concept and 80-percent of its beef is grass-fed, instead of the more common grain-fed, which ensures superior flavour and texture. Another key “ingredient” of Mad Cow’s culinary offerings is, of course, its Chef de Cuisine, Chef Bastian Muntu, whose résumé includes stints in Jakarta, Japan, Angola, the Middle East and even the legendary Providenciales.
Watching Chef Bastian and his team work in the open kitchen is a treat in itself. And while the state-of-the-art kitchen certainly impresses, it is – once again – the little touches that elevate the culinary offerings of Mad Cow. Case in point: The chef uses various local woods, including rambutan wood, which imparts a truly unique flavour profile to the food prepared there.
The definite star of the menu at Mad Cow Wine and Grill is the Tomahawk Steak, which easily serves three to four diners. Another crowd favourite is Maddie’s Surf and Turf, which pairs a juicy tenderloin steak with grilled bamboo lobster. It should be pointed out here that the non-beef entries in the menu are definitely worth a try, especially the aforementioned surf and turf, as well as Grilled Bamboo Lobster Thermidor. The house’s signature burger also comes well recommended, and the menu includes two interesting and contemporary takes on local cooking styles: semur and rendang.
From the starters and soup section, must-tries include the bone marrow with Norlander toast, baked crab cakes with a refreshing east-meets-west combination (Maryland jumbo crab meets mango sauce), the lobster bisque and the kale salad (grown in nearby Lembang).
Rounding things up is Mad Cow’s impressive wine list, arguably the most complete and accessibly-priced collection in town. It certainly helps that Mad Cow is really passionate about food and wine pairing to create a truly unforgettable dining experience.
Truly, Madly, Deeply
Bandung has a well-deserved reputation as a foodie mecca. From legendary bakeries that have been in business for decades in the same centuries-old buildings to trendy cafes serving the latest contemporary cuisine, visitors and locals alike are always spoilt for choice. And now, the Parijs van Java has a proper, authentic New York-style grill (and wine bar!) offering a truly elevated dining experience.