“ Brand: Argos / Type: Charcoal „
It usually happens between the months of June to August when my hubby surrenders to his urge to pay homage to his primitive ancestry. His desire to cook chunks of flesh over open flames becomes over whelming and the slightest hint of sun and out of the shed the barbecue is dragged ready for another summer of al fresco dinning. Indulging hubby in his yearly ritual, late last spring I was sent to purchase a new barbecue with two simple instructions to which I must adhere. Firstly it had to be charcoal and secondly he didn't want a second mortgage to fund the purchase so it had to be reasonably cheap. After viewing several versions on-line and in various homes stores I opted for the Argos Deluxe Charcoal Trolley BBQ (£39.99 current sale price / £69.99 standard retail) chosen because of it's overall size and shelving for storage that others in this price range lacked.
The barbecue comes completely flat packed for home assembly and is fairly light weight (approximately 20kg or there abouts) fully packaged and can be easily carried by one person. Recommended as one person assembly although ideally the construction is smoother with an extra pair of hands holding the unit steady. I pre worn the task ahead for an assembly novice is a tad daunting. The kit comprises of a confusing array of screws and bolts most of which look identical and are all mixed up in one single bag. Assembly instructions were mainly in the form of diagrams which, at times was a little confusing. It's fair to say even consulting the instructions for reference and after almost thirty minutes I still managed to make a pigs ear of the assembly. The task was finally completed by my hubby who managed to effortlessly assemble in around twenty minutes although not without my help holding some of the panels whilst he connected and screwed them together. Parts of the construction are tricky, requiring bolts to be fastened without a great deal of maneuverability making them hard to fully tighten and there are no tools included so you will need a screw driver and spanner to complete.
On completion the barbecue stands 98cm high x 115cm wide (which includes the shelf/handle) x 51cm deep. The actual cooking area is slightly smaller at 74cm long x 51cm wide with a 7cm deep tray to house the charcoal, of which you need a fair amount to completely fill the bottom and maintain a good heat. A 5kg bag of charcoal briquettes will be a slightly over what's required to completely fill the tray. A divider in the tray would be useful for those not cooking for large groups, allowing one half of the barbecue only to be used. To give you a rough idea of running costs a 5kg bag of charcoal briquettes by Fuel Express are currently retailing at £5.00 and a pack of 30 x Zip firelighters (which should last all season if used sparingly) £2.30 based on prices from our local Tesco's.
Fully assembled the barbecue looks smart but it lacks the masculine statement that my hubby would prefer had we had a bigger budget. At just 17.kg, the barbecue is lightweight and easy to maneuver but a tad delicate. The vertical side panels that house the adjustable shelves are strong although they can be bent using force and although on wheels, I don't feel it's designed with intention of continual transportation. After a few uses last year and being moved back and forth across the garden and screws and bolts loosened. Not to a degree threatening collapse but enough that it tilts slightly and wobbles which is inevitable and unavoidable considering the way it requires construction.
Two full length stainless steel grill shelves are included with wooden handles that sit snugly into grooves on either side of the vertical panels allowing the shelves to be adjusted to four different height levels, a handy feature for cooking on the lower level or keeping food warm on the upper level. A nice addition or perhaps even extra purchase option would be a warmer plate or draw that could fit under the charcoal tray which would free up extra cooking space whilst allowing food to be kept warm. We tend to cover one grill shelf with tin foil or just put food in a baking tray and rest on a shelf to imitate a warmer which works just as well. The lowest shelf at the bottom of the unit is handy for food storage offering a gap of 49cm between the shelf and underside of the barbecue, so plenty of room to stack items as well as assisting in holding the unit sturdy. A small shelf come handle to the side offers that extra room for storage as well as doubling as a utensil holder. Last year the barbecue easily handled a hefty food load for fourteen people and I am confident that with good organisation it could easily cater for a few more although realistically too big for smaller groups due to running costs.
Warm soapy water and a good sponge down is sufficient enough to clean the steel however the coal tray poses a slight problem as coals need to be lifted out to be removed, a messy and awkward job. A better solution would be a tray insert that could be easily taken in and out. Grill shelves can also be easily washed with soapy water and can handle a scourer on dried on dirt without leaving obvious scratch marks. To prevent scorching we dip a paint brush in cooking oil and lightly brush the stainless steel before we place the food on top. Last summer to save transporting to and from the shed I brought a cover so we could leave it outside during summer a handy essential if you don't have the luxury of a shed for storage during winter and one that kept the barbecue clean and protect from the elements as it's really not practical or easy to dis-assemble.
Realistically, with size in mind and running costs this is a family barbecue and probably too large for a couple, however Argos do offer a similar, smaller design for £29.99. Purchasing at full retail for £69.99 I certainly would not be unhappy. For £39.99 it is certainly one of the better designed barbecues on offer in it's price range and actually is better designed than some others I viewed that were pricier. I think it provides great value for money. If a few kinks to the design could be straightened such as easier assembly and a little extra stability this would become the perfect budget barbie. Consider my actual overall rating four and a half stars!
Deluxe Charcoal Trolley BBQ (catalogue number 345/0372)
Heavy Duty Medium Size BBQ Cover (catalogue number 345/0736)
Barbecue Utensils (31 piece set) - £32.99 - Amazon
Fuel Express Charcoal Briquettes (5kg) - £5.00 Tesco
Zip Firelighters (30pk) - £2.30 Tesco