My new barbecue arrived last week. The website did say that assembly would be required, but when I opened the box containing our new gas barbecue the other day I was not quite prepared for what I saw. Lots (and lots) of little bits – gas burners, hoses, igniters, grill trays, legs, wheels, uprights, a regulator, screws, bolts, and a book of instructions.
We were given a new Landmann Grill Chef gas barbecue by Asda, which gave LincsGeek and I an opportunity to enjoy our garden in the amazing sunshine we’ve been having. Cue the end of the sunshine – apologies. Our old barbecue is a small traditional charcoal one that doesn’t stand up straight and we haven’t used since we moved house nearly three years ago. I love a proper charcoal or wood fire to cook on, but the fact is it takes so long to get hot enough I never actually get around to using it at all. A gas one, while considered cheating by many, might actually encourage me to use it more than once in a blue moon.
I chose the Landmann from the products available as we only needed something fairly small. It has two burners in the main barbecue area, as well as a side burner. I liked that it was on a trolley, they call it a “wagon”, making it easy to move around and also stand at to cook rather than having to put it on a separate stand or sit on the floor. It doesn’t use lava blocks but it does have a metal vapouriser part that allows the fat from the meat to get mixed in with the smoke, thus giving the “barbecue” effect. The Grill Chef is an entry level barbecue, the cheapest of this style available from Asda, retailing at £119.
I gave the job of building the barbecue to LincsGeek while I went to buy a gas cylinder (it uses the Calor Patio Gas style) and some meat. When I got back LincsGeek had various pieces of barbecue across the garden and said “I’m glad you’re back, can you hold this?”. Happy to help I was put in charge of reading out the instructions and helping LincsGeek interpret them. There are some photos in the assembly instructions but the reproduction is poor, making them difficult to see, and the diagrams don’t seem to actually show where you need to put what. I guess they are just your stereotypical flat pack instructions!
Assembly starts with the trolley part, but we immediately found that the metalwork was very thin making it quite flimsy in places and bend when you tighten the nuts and bolts. This was most noticeable in the base of the trolley, and the legs. With the metal being quite thin the edges are sharp. Some parts of the assembly needed three or four hands, especially at the beginning, unless you can some how balance things in place and use you teeth! You would struggle to build this model on your own.
We also found that the attention to detail in the machining of the various parts was a bit lacking. The burner controls do not line up properly with the front panels, and so we have had to leave a screw out for now (we may enlarge the hole another time by drilling or filing it). Also, the side burner bracket was welded to the pipe in the wrong place meaning if you attach it as instructed the pipe does not fit over the gas supply – not happy with just one bolt on an element of the barbecue that would get very hot we chose to drill a new hole in the bracket so the burner sat correctly and the pipe fitted over the gas supply. Another part that suggests quality control is not quite up to scratch was the flame tamer (or vapouriser) was bent and had what looked like a shoe print on it – perhaps it got dropped and stood on in the factory and then put in the box anyway?
The instructions say you should light the barbecue and let it run for half an hour before cooking on it to allow the food-safe coating to heat up and harden, and so once we’d finished building we did just that. We found it was very hard to see when the barbecue was actually lit – you can’t see the flames at all as they are well covered by the burner casing and the flame tamer, but you can feel the heat. With the lid down the handle got hot quickly, even with the heat resistant spacers in place, so make sure you have oven gloves handy.
Unfortunately, if I had bought this barbecue myself I’d have been so annoyed at the fact it required so much building, that the instructions were not clear, that the metal seems very thin and easy to bend, that the attention to detail in manufacture was poor, that I would have been disappointed at my purchase. It seems like a cheaply made product not quite worth the £120 price tag. If it had been delivered with the barbecue part all assembled with just the trolley to put together I would probably think differently.
Despite all that, we had a lovely barbecue on Saturday night. The barbecue took just a few minutes to heat up and we were cooking in no time – very convenient. Barbecuing is a very healthy way to cook, assuming you pick the right cuts of meat and add lots of vegetables into the mix. We had Lincolnshire sausages, burgers with cheese in the middle (Lincolnshire Poacher, of course) and thin slices of lamb, along with the required salad, coleslaw, sauces, crisps and Fentiman’s Victorian Lemonade. The meat cooked quickly, with the hood helping to contain the smoke and cook things through evenly.
Our new gas barbecue certainly does the job, is plenty big enough for two and will easily enable us to feed at least a couple of friends too, and I am already planning when we can have the next one. Now we just have to hope this amazing weather continues.
Would I recommend it? If you can get passed the entry level quality and have a friend or two to help you build it, then yes, although wait until it dips under £100.
Thank you to Asda for sending me this barbecue to try out for Splodz Blogz.