Restaurant reviewer John Gilchrist is known for being tough but fair — so what did it take for him to give his lowest rating in years?

Gilchrist stopped by the Canadian Brewhouse in Red Deer during a recent golf trip and told the Calgary Eyeopener this week he is giving the Edmonton-based chain a three out of 10.

  • Listen to his full review on the Calgary Eyeopener.

"They're big, warehouse-y places that are packed with booze, high tables, wall-to-wall TVs and long bars," said Gilchrist. "They're very sports-oriented guy places, with servers in almost questionable outfits, if you know what I mean."

The Canadian Brewhouse touts itself as ultra-Canadian, with an inukshuk marking the entrance and popular menu items highlighted with maple leaves and more inukshuks.

The menu continues this Canadian theme, albeit in a multicultural way — there are seven different kinds of poutine ranging from nacho, donair and butter chicken to Montreal-smoked meat, buffalo chicken and braised beef.

Other offerings run the gamut of standard Canadian bar fare such as potato skins, wraps, ribs and a variety of burgers, including one with a maple leaf-shaped patty.

"I wasn't expecting a whole lot from the kitchen here," Gilchrist said. 

"What tipped me off is the beer list at the Canadian Brewhouse leans to Bud Light, Molson Canadian, with a bit of Strongbow and Rickard's Red thrown in. It's pretty dull stuff really and — in spite of the brewhouse name — there's nothing that they brew in-house.... They don't even carry a few craft beers. Steamwhistle was the most adventurous beer on the list."

After sampling the shaved prime rib sandwich, Gilchrist says he was utterly disappointed.

"I've rarely seen such a disservice done to a piece of good Alberta beef," he said, adding it was a pile of hard, bland beef shrapnel barely made chewable by the dip.

"It could have been so much better."

The Canadian Brewhouse has 10 locations across Alberta, with two more in the works. Gilchrist visited the location at 12 Conway Street in Red Deer.

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John Gilchrist gives the Canadian Brewhouse three out of 10. (CBC)