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TAG! You're it

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Hiramasa, flash-seared on a hot flattop, served with yuzu, jalapeno and pop rocks. Braised pork cheek with a hard-fried quail egg balanced on top. Sushi rolls cut and plated with machine precision, filled with Maine lobster, with kobe beef, with avocado and unagi and pickled gobo root. Beef short ribs smeared with tamarind, mounted over potatoes spiked with horseradish, caramelized apples, mole and sweet corn puree. Dude is weird, no doubt. Dude is freaky. Dude has never met a border or a canon that he didn't just grin and give the finger to. And all of this -- all of this fusion, for lack of a less polarizing term - might've been terrible and certainly would've just flat pissed me off straight to the core of my classicist's soul if not for the fact that Troy Guard's taste for fusion, for juxtaposition and the gleeful collisions of modern cookery, runs just as deep. This is what he has done for as long as I have known him, for as long as he has been feeding me. I have to respect a guy who has picked his hill, planted his flag and refused to budge no matter how fads and trends and the fickle passions of the foodie class have shifted. Guard makes food that fucks with food. And I like that.

Matter of fact, I like that a lot. And I liked TAG, the quasi-eponymous restaurant that chef/owner Troy Atherton Guard opened on Larimer Square in May.

Guard's s got some weird stuff on his menu, no doubt. His board is straight-up fusion of the most unconscionable sort. But what makes TAG successful is the fact that Guard is just as committed to his vision of borderless cuisine as any classical French chef is to La Cuisine.

For those of you not quite so into Pop Rocks and pork cheeks, this week I also revisit Ali Baba Grill in Golden, and list some of the other good dining choices in Larimer Square.

There are also chef and bartender interviews, and news of Hush, an underground dinner that will debut in Boulder next month -- the whole mixed bag of gastronaut goodness we bring you every week in the Westword Cafe section.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.

 

Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.