Last year I submitted a review ranting and raving about our Valentines Day dinner at Eight. It was such a nice experience we decided to start a tradition and go back for Valentines Day dinner this year.
The menu says that the chef Kevin Kaechele (sp?) is still there but he must be the only one left. Everything seemed off! First the place was deserted (on Valentines!!!) - there were two or three empty tables the whole time we were there. There did not appear to be a wine steward/sommelier around at all, the music was loud and an annoyingly repetitive dance beat, there was no hostess and worst of all, no charm. The service was hurried which was odd as there were only 10 - 12 diners and three servers.
Even the food was not quite right. When the bread and oil were dropped at the table not a word was said and last time they explained what each bread was and the oil and vinegars as well. It seemed that they were the same but the only thing I remember from a year ago was that the olive oil was Greek. There was about a teaspoon provided and it ran out on the first bun and was never replenished.
In addition, our server did not seem to know anything about the food. When he dropped an amuse bouche at our table and was about to rush off, I stopped him to ask what it was. He had to think hard and then stumbled out that it the raspberry or (OR?) strawberry soup with a hint of rosemary. Unfortunately the raspberry gazpacho was overwhelmed by waaaaaaaaaay too much rosemary. (Sorry Kevin)
We chose not to have the Valentines tasting meal. My husband doesn't really like "fussy" food and doesn't drink wine. We both ordered the garlic spinach soup - good thing too as it was very garlicky - but good roasted garlicky. Unfortunately, it was the best part of the meal. I ordered the lobster ravioli – again, and my husband ordered the lamb, again. You call it predictable we call it a tradition. Anyhow, my ravioli was 30 seconds shy of crunchy. I am as big a fan of el dente as the next person but this was seriously barely cooked. The sauce was a reduced cream and good but not great. I am pretty sure the subtle hint of saffron is gone and replaced by something else – either that or they downgraded to the cheap saffron. As well, a cup of frozen corn niblets had been tossed in to the sauce and I felt it was just too much corn.
My husbands lamb was "just ok". That was all he would say. We opted not to stay for dessert – ON VALENTINES DAY!!! That says a lot. Our bill was presented and an hour and 15 minutes after we arrived, we were on our way. For only $100 we got good value but what we wanted was good food. Not here!
PS. I heard a staff member/owner ??? chatting with the diners next to us saying that they were closing or renovating or revamping or redoing the menu. I couldn’t quite get it but the gist of it was – a big change was coming. Well I think they have already changed too much for me and until I hear someone else say that it is great again, I will not be going back. I will be looking for a new tradition next Valentines Day at Capo or Alloy or The Tribune.
They are putting the kybosh on Ei8ht and expanding the Mercury into that space. As good as their food was, there's a lot more profit margin in a pricey booze menu than there is in paying a high-end chef to operate a restaurant that occupies half of your floor space.
The conglomerate that owns Mercury/Bungalow/Flames Central et al is revamping the Calgary Tower restaurant...and I heard from a friend that works in a few of those bars that the chef from Ei8ht could wind up there in the end.