Monday, January 11, 2010

TAG (8.75)

Well, I'm finally back to the blogging board. My inspiration: TAG.

A familiar face represents the newest member of the Larimer family. Rivaling some of the biggest, best and brightest of the dining scene with a few feet of buffer is a bold move. Granted, with a resume like Troy Guard, I suppose you have a few lumps of confidence to go with your coffee. That and a good luck charm in the form of a namesake pet bulldog. TAG (both chef's initials and the name of man's best friend) is hiding in a few different places around the restaurant. Some more obvious than others... you'll see what I mean.

Reminiscent of the Sullivan family's Nine75 in it's heyday, Troy brings his classic comfort food focus back to the table and adds some ethnic flair with his new "Continental Social Food" concept. Accompanied by contemporary decor and the typical aged brick interior of LoDo, the food introduces layers of detail and care down to the ingredient. And so do the drinks. TAG's bartender is not just a happy hour booze-slinger, but more of an apothecary of sorts. Serving up the perfect elixir to wind down after that week of work never looked better. The small bar boasts some of the more unique muddling elements including kumquat, jalapeno, select fresh herbs, lavender, you name it. Might not be too bad of a thing to wait for a table here, but take it from me. Not a ton of space to go around so choose wisely on your timing.

So if you decide to take the trip to the land of giant red booths and bulldogs, consider a few menu items for your night. Though changing periodically, you can bet your buck that a few of these will always be offered.

TAG's focus is social food. Your best bet here is to get a handful of small plates to start and share a few entrees. A couple of items that you can't miss include the Kobe Beef Sliders (w/ fries cooked in duck fat nonetheless), Miso Black Cod, and the Szechuan Colorado Lamb. Let's hope that one stays on the menu forever.

The sliders offer a nutty Kobe flavor, perfectly cooked to a T with caramelized shallots and a gorgonzola aioli. Though nice elements, they compliment well rather than overpowering. Let's just say I was too lost to take a picture before we devoured most of them.

Sushi is a fun middle course, but the dishes that drive it home are Troy's signature black cod with miso glaze and edamame salso; and the Colorado Szechuan Lamb. The cod itself has a nice caramel element, and meshes well with fresh earthy flavors from the vegetables. As for the lamb, you can expect rich layers of hoisin and umami dancing on amazingly tender lamb chops. No matter the entree, there is a fine balance of classic technique and creative notes.

And that continues with dessert. We passed around the sticky toffee cake and bread pudding. Those guys didn't have a chance.

All this to say, there's not much wrong with TAG. It's a cool concept that I'm sure will be a Denver staple for some time. So stop in, take a load off, grab a Jalapeno Kumquat Mojito and enjoy! Dish it up.

Food: 9.5
Ambience: 8.5
Service: 8.5

http://www.tag-restaurant.com/

TAG on Urbanspoon

The Denver Dish is an open forum. Please feel free to let me know how your experience at TAG was. I'm looking forward to hearing your comments on the blog in general as well.

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