You can likely guess how many stools are to be found at the V-shaped Douglas fir counter at Eight. These are Calgary’s most sought-after perches. Each affords a clear view of Netflix’s The Final Table finalist Darren MacLean and chef du cuisine Mitsuru Hara (from Spain’s Michelin-three-star Azurmendi) as they cook and plate your courses. Their compact black and marble high-tech kitchen packs a binchotan grill and, at the rear, what’s purportedly Canada’s only fish dry-aging chamber. Tasting menus are a minimum 12 courses, each one weaving a story about our culinary mosaic. It’s a stimulating and interactive culinary experience, of which every detail is meticulously planned. Most ingredients are local, such as the pork, from MacLean’s nearby organic farm. Also expect seafood from our east and west coasts, country- wide forage and the occasional necessary import (truffles, etc.). The restaurant is open only when MacLean is on-site, three nights a week. Next door, you’ll find his far more accessible Nupo, offering light Japanese-style takes on vegetables, fish and seafood. Think whole Fogo Island squid with charcoal-grilled and fried tentacles with squid-coconut curry, or sake-steamed pink scallops. There is also vegan (based on roast-cashew milk) ramen, plant-based gyozas, tempura chickpea and curry fritters, and tofu prepared fresh daily. We hope both of these impressive new restaurants are back online soon.
In my opinion, Eight is one of the best, if not the best, dining experience in Canada, if not the world.”
—Rosemary Bacovsky, C100B Judge
Photo Credit: (Eight) Steven Hagan. (Nupo) Wide Bright Sun Photography. (Nupo) D&Q Studios.