site stats
Restaurant review: #BreakfastStateOfMind at HashTAG |

Restaurant review: #BreakfastStateOfMind at HashTAG

HashTAG, 2½ stars

Are we supposed to be over hashtags by now?

The popularity of Troy Guard’s HashTAG — a one-two-three-punch on potatoes, the name of Guard’s Larimer Square flagship restaurant (and empirical restaurant group) and the pound sign symbol that litters Twitter and Instagram — suggests that lots of folks disagree with that notion.

Regardless, the space, painted in the hue of egg custard, is photo-ready for a cleverly written Instagram caption that may or may not include an egg pun. On weekends, the queues for a seat might make you think that Kim Kardashian is dancing on a table. But your tweet might amount to simply this: “Who waits 110 minutes for hashbrowns?”

Breakfast habits are clearly a thing at Guard’s project in Stapleton’s Eastbridge Town Center. And his restaurant appears to do no less than reformulate what a breakfast and brunch spot should be — to eschew superfluous flourishes, plate artistry and micro portions, and instead concentrate on the case for a breakfast feast bereft of bravado.

The dining area at HashTAG in Denver. Lori Midson, Special to The Denver Post

Vibe: Just sitting in one of the spacious booths at HashTAG — with its high ceilings, animated open kitchen, canary-yellow counter stools and electric yellow skillets, bundt-cake pans, muffin tins and cereal bowls that dominate much of the wall space — puts a diner in a breakfast state of mind. You, along with a large populous of Stapleton, which involves a romper room of kids, are firmly entrenched in the yolk of suburbia. If it suits your mood, you can plop down at a long communal table and perhaps meet a potential babysitter.

You also can study the rather interesting murals that punctuate the hallway near the bathrooms and contemplate the words of wisdom scattered across the scene of sunlit aspen trees: “courage,” “harmony,” “ownership,” “caring,” “passion” and “imagination.” Along with filling your belly with morning glories, Guard apparently wants you to be a better person, too. Fair enough. Not surprisingly, there’s a bulletin board in the dining room tacked with food shots and selfies, along with an invitation to tag HashTAG on Instagram. Judging from the photos, amateur photography is fine.

Hits: If you’re looking for a new take on avocado toast — which is still officially having a moment — the version here ($12) comes close to eclipsing the competition. The avalanche of sprouts is excessive, but burrowing below that knife-and-fork landslide is more than just a fad, especially when you uncover gently scrambled eggs, pink flakes of thickly smoked trout and orange marmalade smeared on lightly toasted pumpernickel bread. The stacked enchiladas ($11.50), which rank among the best reasons to drag your limbs out of bed and drive to HashTAG, are soaked in a bracing guajillo chile sauce inflected with shards of tender rotisserie chicken and crowned with two swollen fried eggs dislodging yolk onto the enormous mass gooey with Jack cheese. A waffle ($9.50) — flecked with quinoa, rich with ricotta and surfaced with candied walnuts, clouds of whipped cream and fresh berries — is one of the best I’ve had in months, its soft, risen interior offset by caramelized, butter-brushed edges. And the terrific short-rib Benedict ($11.75), a hipster version of an old-school Benedict, is painted with a lemon-jolted hollandaise and spiked with roasted red peppers and grilled onions.

Misses: Hash browns, plonked on most of the plates, are uniformly dull: unsalted, unbuttered and intermittently crispy, depending, I guess, on who’s on spud duty. And the Just the Tips hash ($16.50), ballyhooing chunks of prime-grade beef that corrals a cultish herd to Guard Grace (Guard’s superb steakhouse in the heart of downtown) is too one-dimensional to be memorable. But if you don’t want to blow your paycheck on a splurge at Guard Grace, I suppose you might be happy with the steer on display here. Most everyone seems to start with the doughnut holes ($5.50), spheres of dough, too heavy and dense, that play second fiddle to the dipping sauces of chocolate and vanilla anglaise that you might be inclined to slurp on their own.

The quinoa and ricotta waffle at HashTAG in Denver. Lori Midson, Special to The Denver Post

Drinks: Forego the Irish coffee ($10), a forgettable libation that’s weak on whiskey, and instead order one of the fetching bloody Marys ($8). I especially like the bloody perfumed with chipotles and hickory-smoked salt. Fresh-squeezed orange and grapefruit juice ($4 small; $5 large) co-mingle with Coda coffee, a scroll of cocktails, including fruit-forward mimosas mixed with fresh juices ($8), and a handful of wines and bubbles by the glass and bottle.

Service: While service at Denver restaurants continues to suffer, Guard somehow managed to assemble an enthusiastic, knowledgeable and genuinely hospitable staff — the kind that greets you moments within walking through the front door and makes it a point, even when the dining room is chaos, to shout out a proper “thank you” when you exit.

Bottom Line:  #Go #ItsWorthTheDriveFromTheCity #ExpectLongWaitsOnTheWeekend #EggsAllDay #AvocadoToastIsStillAThing #HashbrownsNotSoMuch #HoldTheDoughnutHoles #PoundABloodyMary #BreakfastInSuburbia #PhotoReady #110MinutesForBreakfast #LoveThatWaffle #BreakfastStateOfMind #SmittenWithTheStackedEnchiladas #MorningGlories

Price: Starters ($2.50-$8); Main dishes ($7-$16.50); Side dishes ($1.50-$4.50)

Fun Fact: When Guard was just 24, acclaimed Japanese chef and restaurateur Roy Yamaguchi plucked him out of an army of chefs to spearhead the kitchen of Yamaguchi’s China Max, a restaurant in Hong Kong. “At a really early age, I reached a goal that I never thought I’d reach until much, much later in life,” recalls Guard. “I was cooking in a foreign country, working with foreign ingredients, dealing with people who didn’t speak a lot of English and cooking for very different palates, so I felt really challenged. There were so many things working against me, and yet I totally kicked some Hong Kong ass.”

10155 E. 29th Dr.
Hours: Breakfast and brunch daily from 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Reservations: Not accepted
Parking: Free lot

Star Rating Guide: Ratings range from zero to four stars. Zero is poor. One star, satisfactory. Two stars, good. Three stars, very good. Four stars, excellent.

Category: Skillets  Tags: ,  Comments off
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.