sage by heston adjusta grill and press review
I’ve reviewed a couple of the items in the Sage by Heston range: the deep fat fryer and Kitchen Wizz Pro (twice). There are features common to all of them: they are presented in a brushed chrome finish with matt black details, packed with features & modes and very solidly made. They do also share a high price tag to match. How does this Grill and Press sit in the lineup?
It’s obviously trying to muscle in on the George Foreman grill territory (did you know it could have been the Hulk Hogan grill?), simultaneously offering sandwich pressing into the mix. I’ve had a George Foreman for a couple of years and use it fairly regularly so I have a good idea of what it’s capable of (I’ve made a whole roast on one before!). The key advantages of this type of appliance is having heat from both plates to speed up cooking, plus the slant of the device encourages excess fat to drain away into the fat tray.
What can you cook with it?
I tried a few different things with it. First up was a sausage muffin – pretty straight forward. I used the SEAR setting to cook the sausages in about 7 minutes (pretty fast!), then split them and put them back into a muffin before grilling the lot on the SANDWICH setting.
My second experiment was similar, roast beef and mustard in a poppy seed roll again squidged and toasted. Both came out as a tasty as a pressed sandwich should do. I then tried burgers, butterflied chicken breasts and other meats and all came out cooked very well. Despite the fat draining the fast cooking time leads to succulent, tender meat as it doesn’t cook long enough to start leaking juices. In that regard it works exactly as it should and cooks meat and bread very well.
It’s also dead-easy to clean. As it has a non-stick coating it’s easy to wipe down with kitchen towel and it’s good to go. If there’s anything stubborn on it I trickle boiling water on it and that shifts the rest.
I have a couple of niggles with the device. The instructions are unusually poor, lacking crucial detail. For example, there’s a dial on the top where you point it towards SANDWICH or SEAR. And there are some dots in between them to indicate some gradation between them. But what’s the difference between them? The manual doesn’t make this clear. And what if you’re not cooking a sandwich of a chicken breast? How do you cook a piece of bacon? Further experimentation reveals that SANDWICH is effectively a cooler setting, while SEAR is the hottest. This is not explained anywhere in the manual, and would make such a difference in exploring how to use it. As another example of the manual’s shortcomings, there are some feet under the grill to stabilise it when you want the food to be level as opposed to slanted. But it doesn’t explain how they pop out. I’d already turned the grill on to get warm so trying to fish around underneath was a tricky. It’s not difficult, but a little diagram here would make all the difference.
There’s a disappointing amount of recipes too. Whilst I wouldn’t slavishly make each one of them, they do give you avenues of inspiration to showcase the tool’s talents. They can push you towards trying something new especially when you think of the device as only capable of certain things.
On a practical level I have a couple of reservations. Because of the large black handle, the device pivots very high. I can only fit it in one place in my kitchen, and not in my usual countertop places – it simply won’t open when underneath my wall-mounted cupboards. This limits what I can do with it. Also – and this is a bit of a silly one – the plastic mould on the plug isn’t deep enough. I can’t get enough purchase on the plug to pull it out of the wall confidently. I have to wiggle the plug and lever it cautiously until the pins ease free.
Most of these are trivial and personal details, but we are talking about a gadget that costs just shy of £100 and has many, many competitors on the market at all different price points and feature sets. At the price they are charging every feature of it should be refined to perfection.
It’s a great type of gadget to have around, especially if you are limited in hob space or don’t have a grill. It’s also a great way to control your fat intake as you have a lot of visibility on what oil or butter you’re using and how much drains away.
While I can recommend others in the Sage by Heston range despite the price – the Kitchen Wizz Pro is the best in its class – I wouldn’t plonk down the money on this one. There are many similar items available riffling through the Argos catalogue that offer much better value for money. What it does it does extremely well, but not at this price. If you can pick it up on offer or with vouchers, go for it. I don’t think it’s worth paying full price for.
Thanks to Sage for sending me a device to try.