I walk out of TAG with mixed feelings. I was faced with loving one dish that brought back waves of childhood and my heritage as well as feelings of extreme disappointment in the state of Denver sushi. I forged past my apprehensions of landlocked states serving a decidedly raw-focused dish and all I was left with was my head hanging low.
I continue my trek to a small shopping center approximately 30 paces from the main restaurant. I spy this small corner bar at the bottom of the stairs. The all glass customer facing walls remind me of a Jamba Juice or this one small burrito joint I stopped by in Dallas. I was not impressed at first. The first impression of an entirely sterile environment slowly peeled away in chunks as I discover a nice selection of beer, a rack full of ice and what appears to be oysters, and a menu splattered with references to noodle bowls and high end influences. If you haven't picked up on it yet, I'm a purist when it comes to food. I'm not a fan of fusion. As soon as I hear the word, my skin crawls and my eyes start rolling. However, I didn't run. I stuck it through. I was, dare I say, intrigued. Among the dishes that really caught my eye were the following:
La Quercia Prosciutto with shaved fennel, apple and mustard vinaigrette.
Hawaiian Ahi Jalapeno with daikon radish, lime oil and ponzu.
Hangar Steak Tataki with gorgonzola, watermelon radish, and nectarine.
Alas, I chose none of these.
I sit down at the bar and scan the menu a bit longer as I'm still digesting the previous meal. I talk to the chef. Friendly and personable; I was not used to this type of service from the person that's about to make my food. OK. I'm hooked. I'm tempted to order the tasting menu, but I flashed back to my trip to Craft Bar and chills ran down my spine. I opted to select a few items that stood out.
I'm glad I came to TagBar. It really restored confidence in the TAG branding. If I find myself in Denver again, I'll give the big TAG restaurant another shot at a proper dinner. However, I'll definitely be visiting this joint after I've had some drinks in me. I think I saw something about kimchee being on the menu too...