Jay Fox's Dining Guide
KIBOSH THE BURGER, BRING ME THE NACHOS
“I had a missed call. It’s probably the all you can eat buffet calling to say, “Come back! We know you can eat just a little bit more.” — Jarod Kintz
TAG BURGER BAR
SEVERAL YEARS AGO Troy Guard acquired an east side restaurant, Madison Street, and subsequently changed the name to TAG Burger Bar. It sits quietly in a neighborhood of mostly single-family residences. I’ve always enjoyed Chef Guard’s cooking, particularly the lamb burger at his flagship eatery, TAG Restaurant (1441 Larimer St., Denver, CO 80202 303-996-9985; www.tag-restaurant.com). But this place doesn’t turn my clock. Ceptin’ for the BBQ beef brisket blow-your-mind nachos.
First, I’m not crazy about the menu. Its way too limited. If you don’t like burgers or munchies, you probably won’t find much to eat. But you can have your burgers with everything including the kitchen sink.
Munchies include house-made Kirby pickles, plain or deep-fried. I thought the only thing Kirby made was vacuum cleaners. LOL. Sometimes I get tickled by my own jokes. Also on the munchies menu are Buffalo style chicken wings, mac-n-cheese, kimchi, guacamole, crispy Brussels sprouts, onion rings, potato bites, baked potato, and the aforementioned BBQ beef brisket nachos. Man oh man! Not only are these nachos absolutely wondrous, maavelous and yummy, but the portion is enuf for four and runs $8. Or it’s enuf for just me.
There’s some lettuce stuff. And there’s burgers and fries. The burger list includes Angus beef, lamb, bison, turkey, veggie and salmon. The burgers come with a huge assortment of fixins including some fascinating choices. Howsabout the Colorado Proud: house-roasted Pueblo green chile, goat cheese and wildflower honey. Then there’s the Congress Park: avocado, lettuce, tomato, buffalo-style mayo; Wanna try Lady Gaga: Buratta cheese, tomato, basil, balsamic vinegar glaze; and then there’s the ding dong winger of them all, the Andrew Jackson: house-cured pork belly, fried egg, truffle aioli, mustard vinegar slaw, bone marrow salt and crispy chicken skin. I can’t think of anything more disgusting. And then I ask, “Why put a burger in that package in the first place?” If you had all that stuff on a bun and you removed the burger patty, I guarantee you wouldn’t know the burger was gone. Many of the burgers with additional goodies have an upcharge. In case you’re still interested, the Andrew Jackson is a whopping $20 extra.
There’s a special entrée each day, as well as roasted chicken or Baja fish tacos. That’s the menu. ‘Ceptin for the section called, Sugar High. Yep, desserts, there is a deep-fried Oreo, a sundae, a root beer float and a variety of milkshakes including “adult” milkshakes. That’s a bit of hooch for your mood.
After four visits with friends, G and I went just to try the BBQ beef brisket nachos, which I had been raving about for weeks. But alas, they came with Pico de Gallo which has cilantro, an ingredient G is extremely allergic to. I could have sent the order back and had it remade without the cilantro, but G’s recent allergy incident caused her to reject that idea.
G ordered a lamb burger and I ordered the classic Angus burger and we ordered duck fat fries. We weren’t impressed with either of the burgers or the fries. The burgers were way too lean. Mine came medium even tho I ordered it rare, but worse than that the beef had no flavor. No fat, no flavor. The lamb burger came medium as ordered but the same problem: no flavor. G had some stuff on her lamb burger so it wasn’t as tasteless; The Bluepoint Bakery bun was the best part of the sangie. I was surprised cuz I’ve had the lamb burger at TAG, Chef Guard’s flagship eatery and enjoyed it.
As to the fries. One of my most memorable meals was at a fancy, terrific eatery in Hamilton Township, New Jersey called Rat’s. Don’t ask, but that’s the real name. Check it out on the web. Great eatery. Anyway, as part of my fabulous meal there, I had duck fat fries. Actually, one singular, sole, lonely, beautiful, delicious duck fat fry. It was perhaps the most maavelous thing I’d ever eaten. I even offered the W five bucks to bring me a batch, but no deal. It was near closing time and the kitchen was shutting down.
I’ve since been on the lookout for them and was delighted when I saw them on the menu here. We ordered them with eager anticipation. Unfortunately these weren’t even close to what I was looking for. We found them unbelievably salty. As in someone dumped the entire salt shaker on our single order. Really salty.
From now on I’m coming here for the beef brisket nachos and that’s it.
Those of you that like lean meat will enjoy; those of you that like lotsa stuff on your burgers will enjoy. The internet reviews are all over the map; some very good; others not so good.
Sadly, on five visits the service has not been good. Usually it’s not bad, but it has never been above acceptable. The wait staff could care less about their job. I’ve not had a smile yet. The best service was barely perfunctory.
There is another issue. They allow dogs on the patio. I’m told that it’s perfectly legal, but it sucks. I don’t want some dog urinating on my shoe, or coming over and eating off of my plate. Sorry, but a restaurant patio is no place for a dog or any other pet. Maybe I’ll buy a giraffe and bring him along to dinner and let him suck up the food off your plate. Bah humbug!
Statesman dining critic Jay ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy’ Fox is apparently back to the moniker that makes him grumpy. You can send comments his way at email@example.com.