Word of Mouth

TAG|RAW BAR makes us melt with foie gras

TAG|RAW BAR, the newest Larimer Square spot from Troy Guard and Leigh Sullivan, is serving up a roster of dishes that contains nothing cooked at a higher temperature than 120 degrees. And after the TAG|RAW BAR food porn we posted last week, we had high expectations.

We returned to the bar over the weekend -- and we're now drooling over a couple of notable foie gras dishes.

Chef Sam Freund, who's dreaming up much of what's going on the TAG|RAW BAR menu, credits his time in New York kitchens for giving him the chops to handle fattened duck liver.

We're grateful for wherever Freund learned his technique, because he served us one of the best foie gras torchons we've ever had. The chef deveins his liver, eliminating the tough bits and parts that can give foie an iron-y flavor, and then cures it for twelve hours with salt, pepper, sugar and Chinese Five-Spice. Then he softens it up over an oven's pilot light (but never more than 120 degrees), submerges it in brandy and forms it into a cylinder.

Thinly sliced, the ethereally smooth disks, which melt across the tongue, come plated with puffed rice crackers, preserved lemon and kumquat marmalade and a couple of dots of sweet eel sauce.

That dish was stellar, but we were also enamored of a plate that made use of the foie gras fat run-off, turning it into a cinnamon-kissed foam: the kangaroo tartare. After TAG successfully impressed us with the Australian marsupial on its Denver Restaurant Week menu, TAG|RAW has been toying with whether to permanently add the meat to the list. And Freund's been serving it as a special to get feedback.

The kitchen chops the meat finely and blends it with a housemade lemon-thyme oil, shallots and chives. It gets plated with crispy sunchoke chips for texture, the complementary foie foam and a tiny raw quail egg yolk.

Our answer as to whether it should become a mainstay? Emphatically yes. The tartare is available today, too, if you want to head down to the eatery and give Freund your own opinion.

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Laura Shunk was Westword's restaurant critic from 2010 to 2012; she's also been food editor at the Village Voice and a dining columnist in Beijing. Her toughest assignment had her drinking ten martinis and eating ten Caesar salads over the course of 48 hours. She still drinks martinis, but remains lukewarm on Caesar salads.
Contact: Laura Shunk