Travis Crane: The Food Adventures of 127 Bar & Bistro

From the archives: This post is from our original site, MyCityLife, back on 28 August 2014

127 Bar & Bistro has certainly burst into Brisbane as quite the food, wine and cocktail destination. Clearly, the appeal is that 127 offers adventures of every description, from coffee, tea and breakfast on the go in the early hours, to lingering over the morning meal or, lunch during the day, aperitifs, cocktails and dinner in the evening, small plates any other time, cheese platters, dessert and wine late at night; all from the heart of the CBD where Brisbane pulses with its own special and dynamic energy. 

As the personification of F&B Manager Tjardo Hilberts and Head Chef Travis Crane, 127 introduces a recharged vitality to the foodie scene. Youth and energy is on the side of this Charlotte Street bar and bistro, catering to the rising enterprising spirit of Brisbane’s cultivated palates. At 127, it’s all about instilling faith in the clientele yet keeping them alert and ready for anything that might happen: trust that 127 will offer only the best choices while tendering them in new and surprising ways. The surprise and delight is in the unwrapping; the knowledge that it will be perfectly matched to tastes.

Taking a contemporary Australian dining approach based on French cooking techniques, using a share plates environment perfectly suited to our communal dining climate, 127’s foodie atmosphere means the food is approachable and modern. While the description of each dish on the menu is simple, the wonder is in its arrival; certainly a practice that encourages a return in clientele who enjoy being kept on their toes. 

The food adventure of Travis Crane starts less than a decade ago, when he commenced his apprenticeship at The Chifley Hotel. A move to fine dining Brent’s Restaurant in Toowong – now 85 Miskin Street – saw the completion of his apprenticeship and a rise in the ranks to Sous Chef. A move to Graceville’s Boucher Bistro reined in his techniques from fine dining restaurant cooking to simple bistro food. This journey brings 24 year old Travis to Charlotte Street as a Brisbane chef specialising in French techniques. While Travis acknowledges that our western cooking is very much French technique based anyway, Travis retains plenty of Spanish and Asian influences in his cooking too. Australian chefs have to be well taught in every technique after all, in order to grapple with the demand of Brisbane’s multicultural palates. 

Specials featuring wagyu or fish will walk straight off the menu, though intriguing dishes will pop up too, with pork belly and pig’s ear, pig’s tail or confit calf heart also appearing. As a fan of cooking nose-to-tail, every part of the animal is showcased; a technique, which Travis believes, shows respect to the animal. These dishes are also an indication of his excellent relationships with his suppliers who clearly embrace his daredevil ways, offering him unconventional ingredients and innards. But generally, 127’s dishes are inspired by what ingredients and produce are available according to what’s in season and by what Travis enjoys eating himself. His approach to creating dishes are initially inspired by the vegetable, ending up with the protein that best goes with it. Evidently, he loves to face challenges head on, cooking with unconventional ingredients and animal parts. “I like dishes to be exciting, and a little bit unexpected. It has to be balanced: the right balance in texture and flavours. I also like it to be pretty; presentation is very important.”

“People see Brisbane as a destination for food,” Travis points out. “And here at 127, we are very uninhibited with what we do. If we want to eat it, we cook it. If we want to drink it, we get it. It’s about having fun and exposing everyone else to it.”

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