Eight | Calgary’s Best Restaurants 2024

With only 24 seats available each week over three evenings, chef Darren MacLean and his team distill Canada’s cultural makeup into an intimate and exclusive experience at Eight.

Hokkaido scallop ceviche, charcoal, leche de tigre, popcorn, onion rings, cilantro and paprika oil in a gold-lined serving dish crafted by local ceramacist Quin Cheung. Photo by Jared Sych.

 

Who’s Behind It
Chef-Owner Darren MacLean; Shokunin Collective.

What’s on the Menu
A multi-course, seasonal tasting menu that reflects the Canadian cultural mosaic.

Why We Love This Place
To join the upper echelon of dining destinations, a restaurant needs to do more than just prepare and serve amazing food — it also needs to invoke a story about the food and why we eat the way we do. Those are tough marks to hit, but Eight hits them all.

With only 24 seats available each week over three evenings (acquired through an online system that’s more akin to scoring concert tickets than booking a dinner reservation), chef Darren MacLean and his team distill Canada’s cultural makeup into an intimate and exclusive experience, designed to spark the conversation around Canadian cuisine.

What makes Eight special is how the stories weave into the experience; it’s unlike anything else in Calgary right now. Gathered around the eight-seat, V-shaped dining bar, guests get a closeup on the action in the open kitchen as MacLean shares his vision of Canadian food. Though the menu changes on a whim, diners can expect aesthetically stunning dishes crafted from exquisite ingredients (caviar, white truffle, langoustine) and often drawing from the chef’s own memories. Because Eight hosts only 24 guests per week, there’s a care and integrity taken in sourcing ingredients, exemplified by the deeply flavourful Galician-style beef, sourced from reclaimed Holstein dairy cows that have been put to pasture for three years on the chef’s farm with the meat aged 60 days.

Regardless of what’s on the menu, it comes to the table a thoughtfully composed and gorgeously plated expression of Canada’s food story. As a signature venue for chef MacLean’s Cultural Chef Exchange series, Eight shares that story with renowned chefs from all over the world, putting Calgary right in the middle of the conversation. It is a restaurant that can’t be seen — it needs to be experienced.

631 Confluence Way S.E., 403-457-2153, eightcdn.ca, @eight_cdn

 

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This article appears in the March 2024 issue of Avenue Calgary.

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