This is a guest post by a good friend, BJ, who makes a mean enchilada.
I have been a huge fan of charcoal grills for quite some time. I just simply love the smoky flavor that only charcoal can provide. However, clean up has always been a pain. I was thus both eager and hesitant to try the new Quattro 4 Burner LP Gas Grill by Stōk. This is the first gas grill I have ever owned, and I really was not sure what to expect. I’ll discuss my thoughts on assembly, features, and basic grilling below, but in short, I love my new grill.
I am far from an expert handyman. I am not big into DIY or home improvements, and I do not normally buy things with “some assembly required.” Nevertheless, I found this grill very simple to put together. The instructions are clearly written with excellent illustrations. It was easy to follow, and set up only took about 2 hours, including time for pictures and a 30 minute break.
I only have a few of complaints with the assembly, and these are minor manufacturing errors and/or shipping problems. First, a couple of the tabs on the side panels were bent. This was probably due to shipping, and I don’t hold Stōk accountable. Second, one of the bolts had no slot on the head. I didn’t have any spare screws of that size on hand, so I had to screw it in with needle-nose pliers. Clearly not ideal. Third, there was one bolt that refused to go in and eventually broke the attached nut. These problems were a nuisance, and I hope Stok works to eliminate manufacturing flaws like these in the future.
More significantly, however, the doors to the unit do not shut evenly. The left door closes just fine, but the one on the right sticks and is off kilter. While not a huge concern, this is a bit of a pain.
I am thoroughly impressed with how evenly the grill cooks! I have grilled burgers, chicken, steak, dogs, sausages, and brats, and I have yet to be disappointed. The burgers in the back and sides grill at almost the same rate as those in the front and center. The temperature gauge is accurate and easy to read, although I wish Fahrenheit was in bright orange, rather than Celsius.
Furthermore, the grill cooks the food thoroughly. There is less guesswork about when the food is done than there is with charcoal grilling. Not once have I had to cut into the meat (a no-no, I know!) to find out if it was ready. Even very thick pieces of chicken came out fully-cooked and juicy.
However, not all is perfect. The grill puts out a TON of heat off the back. The semi-open back of the grill leads to a lot exhaust. This grill should NOT be used anywhere near the side of the house, as this could lead to damage or fire.
Likewise, the right shelf gets very, very hot. It’s not as bad as the back of the grill, but I would not store plates, pans, or any sort of plastic container on that side. The spacer between the shelf and the grill itself simply does not provide enough of a buffer to keep away the heat.
The left shelf seems to do better at keeping heat at bay, but it too is not ideal. Be careful when setting down utensils and containers on the grill shelves; you don’t want things to overheat or melt!
Finally, here I should mention the warming rack. The rack simply rests on four groves on top of the grill. It is not attached to the lid, as I’ve seen on other gas grills. Thus, it does not lift up, which makes getting to the burgers in the back rather difficult. Also, since it is not attached to anything, it can sometimes come loose.
Obviously the crowing feature of this grill is its inserts. The grill comes with three standard grill inserts, a pizza stone, a griddle, and a vegetable tray. Changing out the inserts is a piece of cake, since the insert removal tool is well designed for this grill.
More importantly, the inserts themselves are amazing. We grilled a frozen pizza following the package directions, and it came out close to perfect. The cheese was bubbling but not burnt, and the crust was very crispy. The crust was slightly burnt, so I would recommend pre-heating the grill about 25 degrees cooler than what is recommended on the package.
Next, we made pancakes on the griddle, keeping them warm on a cooking sheet. I was quite skeptical at first, but they turned out great. The griddle was non-stick (we used a non-stick spray, but forgot once), and it again cooked everything thoroughly and evenly. The only problem here is the size. There was really only room for about 2 normal sized pancakes, which made cooking last a little longer than desired.
The vegetable tray is large and holds a great deal of chopped veggies. We cut up a significant amount of onions, bell peppers, broccoli, zucchini and carrots. I was worried that the open tray would dry out the veggies, but this was not the case. Once I basted them with chicken stock, and once I did not. Both times the vegetables came out firm and crispy without being dry or tough.
Storing the inserts, however, is a real pain. The triangular shelves are barely big enough to keep the inserts balanced, and the vegetable tray simply will not stay put when the grill is moved. This is a frustrating problem, as the clanging of falling trays and inserts is loud and obnoxious.
Plus, there is no place to store the insert tool. The doors to the grill came with two shelves to hold spices, which I will probably never use, but no place to keep the all-important insert removal tool. This makes no sense to me. I have begun keeping the tool either inside the vegetable tray or in the spice racks, but like the inserts, it refuses to stay in place.
The most annoying part of charcoal grilling is not even an issue with this grill. The parts are all more or less non-stick, and so clean up only takes a few scrubs with a wire brush. The inserts can be cleaned in the kitchen sink, and the grills, heating tents, and grease tray take mere minutes to get back in order. No complaints here!
Overall, I am very, very pleased with this grill. It is worth the price for the inserts, the evenness of the cooking, and the ease of cleaning. The flaws that I have with grill are for the most part just annoying and not very substantial. However, the heat coming out of the sides and back is significant, so users should be careful.
Despite that, I would consider purchasing this grill again, since the most important thing – the quality of the food it produces – is spectacular. While I still prefer the smoky taste of charcoal, I would choose to use this grill over charcoal because of how easy it is to use and how well it cooks my food.