It’s all very jolly, like a cartoon of French cuisine. The blackboard on the footpath has loopy handwriting regaling a list of traditional bistro stalwarts – crepes, of course, a boeuf bourgignon, bottles of cider, French onion soup, a green salad. Torchon is the sister to La Cantine du Torchon in Ponsonby and (the much better than Torchon last time we visited) Pastis.
Despite the cutesy ambience, however, it isn’t quite up to par. Cheap, certainly, and filling, without a doubt. But the use of slightly substandard ingredients means it’s a little disappointing – mushrooms are a little grey and flavourless, the boeuf bourgignon lacking complexity (and salt).
A cheap and cheerful bistro environment isn’t an excuse for mediocre cooking: if you’re going to pay for a meal, it should be equal to if not better than something you could make at home. It’s not all bad – service is impeccable and the crepes are a standout, truly good, light and huge – but it could be much, much better. More fresh herbs, a little more attention to detail (better produce would be a good start) and Torchon will sing. NS
HOURS Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 10pm. Saturday, 9am to 10pm. Sunday, 9am to 3pm.
ADDRESS Elliott Street Stables, City, ph 368-7917.www.torchon.co.nz
IMPORTANT DETAILS Stick with the crepes.