TAG! You're it

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.

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