When TAG, Troy Guard's hip Larimer Square eatery, opened more than a year ago, the menu was an instant hit. Guard's cuisine, something he calls "continental social food," brings Eastern influences (Szechuan peppers, spicy dragon sauce) together with Western preparations (grilled lamb, French onion soup) to create dishes with an impressive and perpetually surprising blend of flavors.
But while the food dazzled, the service was a disappointment. (See our February review.) However, a visit last week during a super busy Thursday night has convinced me the service issues have been eliminated. From the hostess to the bartender to the server, everyone we encountered seemed eager to please, even though we had no reservations and the place was jammed. In fact, within minutes we found a table and were told not to rush. Even better: Our server was just as accommodating after we told him we were only interested in a few appetizers.
My favorite starter was the nightly special: ankimo, or monkfish liver. Ankimo is tough to come by and often regarded as the foie gras of the sea. It's rich and silky, and a couple of bites will accelerate your appetite. Guard serves his ankimo with a prickly-pear-ginger sauce and soy-truffle oil. The dish paired exceedingly well with the whiskey smash, a light, citrusy blend of bourbon, Luxardo Triplum, mint, and lemon juice.
When put together, the overall experience proved that TAG now rightfully belongs on the go-to list of downtown restaurants.
1441 Larimer St., 303-996-9985