I lived on the same street as Bistro Pampus (Kamperstraat 40, Zwolle) for two years (2017-2019) when I first moved to Zwolle and although I’d been there as part of a Wijnspijs Wandeling, I hadn’t visited specifically for dinner until recently. In this review, I’ll talk through what we ate and our overall experience.
Bistro Pampus delivers French cuisine through classic, home-made dishes made freshly by their kitchen team. Outside and inside, it certainly looks and feels very French – picture red and white awnings and a lot of dark wood, tables close together, candles and wine bottles.
I chose 3 courses from across the menu whilst my partner went with selections from the 3-course set menu for €35.
Starters: I started with the smoked salmon tompouce (a Dutch layered pastry which is usually cream filled and topped with icing) which had crisp pastry and a very generous amount of smoked salmon and cream cheese filling. I didn’t really notice the basil flavour in the cream cheese but otherwise a fresh, light starter.
My partner had the “wild kroketjes” – two decent sized croquettes with a crunchy coating, filled with delicious, game-y meat and served with a sweet red onion confit and truffle mayo.
Mains: Next up, we chose entrecote and beef tenderloin (tournedos de ossenhaas) – two beef dishes that were perfectly cooked and really lovely cuts of meat. I wasn’t so interested in the side dishes that came with the mains though – so much so that I’ve totally forgotten what they even were and my notes from the night simply say: “an odd selection of side dishes”! Clearly, a good piece of beef is the way to my heart.
Dessert: My overall opinion of a restaurant can be shaped on how good (or bad) their crème brulée is. I absolutely love crème brulée so my expectations are always very high and it’s an easy choice of dessert for me if it’s on the menu. With Bistro Pampus offering French cuisine, I had high hopes for their crème brulée but sadly the vanilla custard was pretty tasteless and a little grainy and the sugar crust was very thin and didn’t have a good “crack” to it. It also came with a chocolate covered nougat lolly which felt really unnecessary, an odd pairing and the chocolate covering needed to be a lot thinner.
My partner chose “pats boem”, a sort of ice cream and meringue sundae. I can’t recall what his initial reaction to this was on the night and upon asking him now what he thought, his response was: “it was a lot. But, it was nice”.
Drinks: I ordered a glass of wine (which had to be changed as the glass was dirty) and my partner had a beer but neither of the servers asked if we wanted more at any time throughout the evening. We had to call someone over to get a second drink and would have had to do the same again if we wanted more, so we didn’t bother.
Although the food overall was good, I wouldn’t say it was memorable. I’m writing this about a month after our visit and I’m glad I made a few notes at the time as I’m struggling now to remember details about some of the dishes.
Frustratingly, my lasting memory is about how long it took for us to be served and for food to arrive. We were there mid-week and the restaurant was quite busy but the front of house staff really could have been more attentive to the tables as we noticed that it wasn’t just us waiting long periods and having to call someone over if we needed something but a number of others around us were seen doing the same.
As an indication, we sat at 6.30pm, ordered shortly after but then had a 40 minute wait until our starters arrived. I understand that dishes are prepared fresh to order but most places we visit do this and, in this instance, my partner also had to run out to extend our parking ticket as we were there for nearly 3 hours which I’ve never experienced for a mid-week 3 course dinner (unless we were part of a large group).
I’m sure at some point we’ll try it again – if only for the beef dishes – but when we’re so spoilt for choice in Zwolle when it comes to restaurants, this one sadly doesn’t sit near the top of my list for a second visit.