Zwolle can be reached by an hourly train from Schipol (1 hour and twenty minutes duration) and is a quite small town whose centre is enclosed entirely by a canal. When staying the best bet at the time of writing is the Hotel Wientjes, which is a short walk from the station, though be aware that even the best rooms there do not have air conditioning.
The restaurant is situated in a 15th century monastery library, which has very high ceilings and is a charming setting. Service on my visit was friendly though erratic, with wine not being topped up on a couple of occasions, and an interminable wait of 50 minutes between starter and main course. However the sommelier was excellent. Amuse-bouche began with a marinated sardine served with a granita of red pepper; the sardine tasted pretty much like, er, a sardine, but the granita had good texture (16/20). Next were three glasses, one with a cream of beetroot, one with a cream of horseradish and cucumber with a little solid cucumber also, and a cream of goats cheese with tapenade and tomato (the best of the three). All pleasant enough (16/20).
Much better, and indeed the dish of the night, was a lollipop of duck liver and duck confit, which had superb flavour and smooth texture (19/20). Also there were a couple of crisps, one of bacon and the other with parmesan and pistachios (15/20). Bread was slanted heavily towards seeded bread, as the plain (very nice) brown bread ran out almost immediately, despite us eating early in the evening. The others were a rye bread, a sesame seeded white roll and a brown roll with semolina. (16/20 for the bread). The menu is a little tricky, with various odd flavour combinations, and is awkward for non-carnivores as many fish dishes also have meat.
My wife started with a wing of skate served with a little puree of smoked eel, and a small amount of cauliflower and mango. I am unconvinced as to why this flavour combination was supposed to be appealing, and it was cooked well enough but still only a moderate dish (15/20) for me. I had fillet of turbot with an excellent morel jus, served with a few baby morels and creamy mashed potatoes and a superfluous twirl of crisp potato (17/20). For main course I had roebuck, served as pieces of meat attached to ribs, plus a shoulder of deer that was minced and wrapped with pasta. On the side were slices of beetroot steeped in alcohol and some cold turnip that did nothing in my view (15/20). My wife had turbot with cockles and green beans, with a ravioli of crab meat and a salad of leaves, herbs and joujons of turbot. The fish was served with a sauce that supposedly had lemongrass, curry and ginger, but only the lemongrass was apparent; this was pleasant enough (15/20).
Cheese was mostly French with a couple of aged Dutch cheeses. Unfortunately it was served straight from a fridge (“as it is a hot night”) which stifled the flavour badly, though the Munster, Epoisses, Camembert and Reblochon were all in good condition (15/20). For dessert my wife had soufflé of quark (cheese) with peach compote and a lavender ice cream that was bizarrely green in colour. I had soufflé of lime leaf with ginger cream and a vanilla ice cream. Neither soufflé had particularly good texture, though they tasted of what they were supposed to (15/20). Petit-fours consisted of a choux bun filled with lemon cream topped with coconut, an almond macaroon, a chocolate truffle on a stick and a white chocolate truffle (18/20). Coffee was excellent (18/20) served with an “After Eight” style chocolate with peppermint filling, and a coffee mousee topped with a coffee gelee.
Overall, on this visit this was really a 1 star level place to which someone has incomprehensibly given three stars. At EUR 344 for two it is not cheap. We had Chateau Musar 1995 from the good wine list, which ranged from some fair prices to vast mark-ups in places.
Further reviews: 16th Jun 2013