My first grill, and a winner it is!
Jul 6, 2010 (Updated Jul 6, 2010)
Review by NFP
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Looks cool, cooks hot, starts up easily, very well-made.
Cons:That I don't have someone living with me who'll do the grilling for me.
The Bottom Line: Go ahead. Buy one.
Recommend this product?
Yes, folks, at the age of (not quite yet, but increasingly almost) 59, I finally succumbed to the All-American habit of buying a professional-grade quality propane grill.
I could say it took me this long because my two previous nuclear family homes in Montclair, NJ and Monrovia, CA had built-in charcoal pits in the backyards, which they did.
But that would be a lie. Fact is, though the charcoal pits were there, I didn't use them. Further fact is, I didn't use them because I just don't like cooking as much as I like eating what other people cook, and my ex-wife loved to cook, so I happily cleaned up afterward. Happy for the trade-off, frankly. Let her sweat over the darn hot coals if she wanted to. Jeez! Plus our twin sons were and remain to this day vegetarians, and had no interest in grilled burgers and the like, so I didn't have to play Happy Daddy-go-Charcoal to them.
But, changes of life often require changes in attitude. Necessity and the Mother of Invention and all that stuff. I have found that the single life as a mature man in my home for only the past year-and-a-half -- Washington, DC -- requires things like patio grills as a social requirement akin to using mouthwash before a date. Being told by a woman friend, "What, you have an outdoor patio and you don't have a grill?" is apparently akin to having a visible hex placed upon you -- a scarlet letter of shame that everyone can see as you walk by with your tail between your legs. No Real Man dare admit he is grill-less!
So, I finally succumbed this summer, and went out and bought a "portable" propane grill, for crying out loud. (I say "portable" in quotes because after advance assembly and bolting to a cart by the guy at the hardware store where I bought it, all-up it was a pretty big contraption requiring a fair amount of creativity and a vehicle larger than my small sedan to get the whole thing to my home, but that's another story).
After some diligent online research, I settled on a Weber Q 320 for about $350. Add a $25 assembly fee by my friendly ACE Hardware rep (one look at the assembly directions made me realize that if there's one thing I hate more than cooking it's assembling anything labeled "some assembly required" with incomprehensible directions written and drawn by somebody in Malaysia), and the cost of a large full propane tank, some grilling peripherals including a steel brush, an all-weather slip cover with a really cool-looking Weber logo on it, some PAM, etc. + tax and it came out to about $450 all up. Hey, what price acceptance?
The Weber Q 320 looks really, really cool, which is important when half the reason I bought the darn thing was to be socially acceptable. Though one of the knocks in online reviews is that it doesn't have quite enough surface area, it allegedly holds 18 burgers, 36 hot dogs, or 2 whole chickens, which is a heck of a lot more than I need at this point in my life.
It has a total cooking area of 462 sq inches -- which seems adequate to me -- and the elevated warming rack area is 69 sq inches. (The most I've used it for at one time was for a slab of Tuna steak, a cut of Chilean bass, some Talapia, and a piece of salmon, four ears of corn, garlic bread on the warmer, and a wooden-handled wire basket full of marinated vegetables including peppers, onions and portobello mushrooms.) Plenty of room!
According to its very impressive-looking spec sheet it has 20,750BTU per hour input which presumably is as impressive as it sounds, 2 stainless steel burners, a built-in thermometer that works, infinite control burner valves, removable catch pan, and 2 removable porcelain-enameled, cast-iron cooking grates. It also features a UFO-like cast-aluminum lid and body, and a really neat fire-red electronic ignition button with a flame logo that's fun to push and works really, really well.
Furthermore, it doesn't take up too much space on my patio (36-1/2"W x 55-1/2"H x 22"D with lid open and the thick plastic work tables folded in.) It is bolted onto a sturdy cart with wheels on one end so I can move it around easily and work comfortably at waist level.
The Q 320 uses either a disposable small canniser Liquid Propane tank, or a refillable 20lb Liquid Propane tank (neither one included), and comes with an adapter hose for the larger tank. It is made of a glass-reinforced nylon frame. The above-referenced folding work tables with tool hooks on each side are removable. And it comes with a Weber Q recipe booklet.
All of which is great. But in the end, is it easy to use for someone like me who just wants to get his dinner cooked? Yup, thank God. The thing fires up first time every time like it's nobody's business, which is the way I like my grills. And it cooks so well; my meat and fish retain their juices and have come out just right every time so far.
I still have to clean it afterwards but hey, that's part of the charm, right? Plus, these past few years I've been getting a lot of practice cleaning up the messes I've created over time. (Propane Grill-as-Life Metaphor; hey, this thing can do it all!)
I've been using my Weber Q 320 for about six weeks now, and I can say I'm thrilled with it, and not just because it makes me look cool. I may even find out that I enjoy cooking.
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