That's the idea behind TAG | RAW BAR, a new restaurant from Leigh and her husband, Troy Guard, the chef/owner of TAG, the whimsical, globetrotting food temple at 1441 Larimer Street that the couple opened in 2009.
TAG | RAW BAR, which will be the first restaurant to inhabit the soon-be-be-renovated pedestrian walkway on the north side of Larimer Square, is scheduled to open in early 2011 in a former gift shop. The space, according to Leigh, is small, with room for 20 to 30 seats, which will be divided among a bar, counter and dining room. "It's teeny-tiny, but it's going to be a really swanky, cutesy, intimate restaurant with a sexy vibe," she says. "I love the idea of this restaurant, because the size is manageable, we can share the staff from TAG, it's familiar to us, and it gives Troy an opportunity to break out of his box and do something a little bit different with raw foods."
But while the restaurant's name may have "raw" and "bar" in the title, this isn't about getting your oyster on, or your sushi fix. "This isn't going to be like Sushi Den or Sushi Sasa, or any other restaurant with a sushi or oyster bar, but Troy, as everyone knows, is a lover of fish, so we'll definitely have some sushi on the menu, but the real emphasis is on raw food -- not raw fish," says Leigh.
The lunch menu will push fresh grab-and-go dishes likes salads, while the dinner board will focus more on what Leigh calls "Troy's freaky, innovative, individual style" -- and all the dishes will feature a raw component. "Troy hasn't decided if he's doing meat yet, but if he does, he'll serve it raw, and offer creative ways for guests to cook it -- either by using hot rocks or cooking it shabu-shabu style," she says.
There will be an emphasis, too, on boutique wines and clever cocktails, which isn't surprising, considering the edgy mixology program at TAG. "We're definitely going to continue the same kind of fun bar program that we have at TAG at the new place, but it will probably be on a smaller scale," reveals Leigh.
"We're really, really excited about this concept. It's a fantastic opportunity for us to do something really interesting on a kick-ass block that we love."