“ Brand: Homebase / Type: Barbecue / Type: Barbecue „
Over the last 7 years of living together Mr Lools and I have probably owned at least 10 BBQ's. We love to have BBQ's as do our friends but time and time again it is the same story how our BBQ meets its (rusty) end. I spend hours in the kitchen and around the house preparing the house for guests coming and then preparing food with Mr Lools promising he will sort the BBQ out after we have finished including cleaning and putting away yet it never happens. Usually his hangover gets the better of him and my stubbornness means our BBQ sits for days after using it and the grill section ends up with charcoal meat remains permanently stuck on and the actual drum of the BBQ starts rusting as the lid has been left open and the typical British "summertime" rain has made an appearance! So when we moved into our new house Mr Lools promised he would look after the next BBQ we bought spurred on by the fact he was made to spend a bit more on this one so had to look after it and bought the Boston Square Charcoal BBQ.
*** Boston Square Charcoal BBQ***
The description of the Boston Square Charcoal BBQ on the Homebase website is "With its roasting lid, warming rack and storage shelves, the Boston BBQ is perfect for outdoor eating."
As the name may give away the Boston Square Charcoal BBQ is a square charcoal BBQ. The BBQ has a square black drum and frame with a brushed silver fold down lid over the drum. The BBQ is 85cm high , 61cm wide and 106cm long (with both side trays folded out). The BBQ has one large square grill area which is 58cm in size and has a warming rack positioned just above the main grill area. There are two small square shelves positioned on the side of the BBQ which fold up and down. The BBQ has two wheels so it can be moved about and a wire shelf on the very bottom of the trolley BBQ.
The BBQ is a medium to larger size and Argos and Homebase state it cooks food for 8 people.
The Boston Square Charcoal BBQ is sold in Argos and in Homebase. The RRP for the BBQ is £74.99 which I do feel is extremely expensive for this BBQ. I do think this is a good product but certainly not worth paying this amount considering how difficult it is to put together and compared to other charcoal BBQ's in this price range. However it is a BBQ that seems to be regularly discounted and both Argos and Homebase sell this for a reduced price. We purchased in March 2011 for £32.99 which I feel was actually very cheap for such a decent sized BBQ. Although in comparison to the £20 BBQ's we had purchased in the past this was a more expensive BBQ.
The Boston Square Charcoal BBQ comes in square cardboard box which is around 70cm square and requires self-assembly before it can be used. The product description on the website states 1 person assembly as does the instructions however I would say this is definitely a two person job. The instructions also state that the BBQ takes 30 minutes to assemble (with 1 person) however with two people it took us 45 minutes and if Mr Lools had attempted on his own more like 90 minutes!
The assembling of the Boston Square Charcoal BBQ is definitely in our experience the biggest downside to the product as it is very complicated and if not assembled correctly the BBQ feels a little flimsy and unsteady as Mr Lools and I found out. The BBQ comes with step by step instructions however although the steps are clear it's the actual parts each step requires that is not clear and the various different screws (there are 4 different types in total) can easily be confused as are the various bits of metal that require slotting together as if you do not get this right and slot the wrong pieces together you find that you have to take apart and go back a few steps adding time to the assembly.
Once Mr Lools and I had figured out what parts go where I must admit the "need" for two person assembly came when fixing the drum onto the trolley part of the BBQ and also the shelves onto the side of the BBQ. This can be done with one person however we found if the pieces were not held in the correct position it was difficult to tighten the screws enough so the BBQ when upright felt a little wobbly and had a slight rattle to it. It was impossible for Mr Lools to hold these pieces in the exact position and angle whilst using a screwdriver and putting into place because of the size of the BBQ so I was needed to hold certain pieces whilst he secured.
The assembly part of the BBQ for us was the worst part and thankfully once assembled the BBQ is ready to use time and time again. I was very impressed with the BBQ once it was assembled and it looks attractive and of a good quality compared to the majority of charcoal BBQ's that we had owned (which were all under £20). The main square BBQ drum is black however the top of the drum lid is brushed silver and even after a years' worth of use and spending 6 months outside still looks new. The shelves on the side of the BBQ flip up and down using a catch and although they add to the overall size of the BBQ it still looks a reasonably compact size. The grill and the warming rack also look of a good quality and when put in place sit level inside of the BBQ rather than look slightly wonky which I found tended to happen in the cheaper BBQ's that we owned.
As this is a charcoal BBQ there is obviously a lot of debate about the best ways to create/ and light the BBQ however I will not go into this as it is a regular debate Mr Lools has with many of our male visitors at BBQ's. We tend to buy the Instant Lighting Charcoal that comes in a bag which you light which then lights the charcoal briquettes. Using this method so there is enough charcoal and heat to cook for 8-10 people on the Boston Square Charcoal BBQ we use two of the small size Instant Lighting Charcoal bags. To get the BBQ going this is all lumped into the centre of the BBQ and then once glowing spread out. What I like about the Boston Square Charcoal BBQ is that the base of the drum of the BBQ is reasonably flat and level rather than deep like many of the circular or oval shaped charcoal style BBQ's. Because of the more level drum means that once the charcoal is lit it is easier to distribute it under the grill of the BBQ and ensure that all of the grill area gets adequate and even heat to cook food rather than just the centre of the grill being useable
The design of the level drum in turn leads to food being cooked a lot easier and more evenly and you have a lot more useable cooking space. We tend to find cooking wise that the BBQ easily cooks enough food for 8-10 people however we have had BBQ's where we have used this to cook food for up to 14 people and we have cooked enough burgers and chicken although it has had to be done in batches. I find the square design means more food fits onto the BBQ in one go to cook as opposed to circular BBQ's where you tend to have to move food around to fit it all on.
The design of the Boston Square Charcoal BBQ also means for the person cooking on the BBQ it is very easy to cook and transfer food on and off the BBQ but also put cooking utensils down. There are two small shelves which can be set up on the side of the BBQ. This allows you to place cooking utensils down without the need for a table to be next to the BBQ which I feel is convenient if you are cooking somewhere where you are limited on space. Also because there is a shelf on each side of the BBQ means you can have a plate on each side; one for uncooked food and one for cooked therefore minimising any cross contamination. The warming shelf above the grill also means that there is space to put cooked food onto.
The warming tray is a very good addition and means food can be kept warm once cooked however it is advisable not to leave food on this section for longer than 20 minutes otherwise it can end up burning and overcooked especially if there is no food being cooked on the main bit of the grill below. We tend to find this isn't a major issue as usually once the food is cooked our guests eat it straight away however when we get towards the end of cooking and our visitors become full up and food starts getting left on the warming rack it can often get left on this section for a little too long and become inedible.
The reason we have had so many BBQ's over the last few years is because of the lack of cleaning and care post BBQ. With the Boston Square Charcoal BBQ we have tended to clip off the grill and warming rack once the BBQ has cooled down and cleaned the same night however there have been two occasions when the grill has been left for over 24 hours before it has been cleaned. The stainless steel rack is a good quality and has a coating on it so even cremated pieces of meat come off with a bit of force. I use quite a harsh BBQ cleaning brush which has not damaged the Boston Square Charcoal BBQ grill tray in anyway where with cheaper BBQ's we have owned the brush has caused some damage to the grill. I have also found both the grill and warming rack are very durable and have not bent at all even when using pressure on the grill when cleaning.
The actual BBQ spent most of last summer outside. After BBQing Mr Lools has the job of cleaning out the old charcoal. Once this is cleaned out the lid can be placed down and we keep the BBQ in a sheltered corner in the garden. Even after quite a wet summer of 2011 the Boston Square Charcoal BBQ did not rust with being outside for almost 6 months and looked as new. The lid of the BBQ is quite heavy and even in strong winds it does not blow open; something that happened regularly with the cheaper charcoal drum BBQ's we have previously owned. It has been kept in our garage since September to protect it from the harsher winter weather and is not too difficult to store.
The wheels on two of the legs make the Boston Square Charcoal BBQ easy to move around so you can wheel it rather than lift to move. This is not a small BBQ because of the grill size so the actual drum is larger which would be a problem if you have very limited storage space. However the BBQ is reasonably compact as the shelves on the BBQ fold down and hand at the side of the drum so the BBQ is only as wide as the square drum.
I definitely would recommend the Boston Square Charcoal BBQ for those looking for a medium to larger sized charcoal BBQ. Once (eventually) put together it gives a reasonable grill space and allows you to cook food for up to 10 people very easily. The BBQ is designed well so the grill gets even heat and the warming rack and shelves on the side of the BBQ mean you have space to rest plates and other dishes on. Once you are finished cooking the grill also is very easy to clean and I feel the wire rack has a coating on it which means food does not get permanently stuck onto it so the BBQ is a lot more durable and long lasting than other BBQ's we have owned. The lid stays firmly shut when placed down meaning the BBQ does not get water inside and I have found it has not rusted like other BBQ's we have owned.
My main criticisms of the BBQ is firstly the price when bought at full price and I would advise shopping around as although this is a great BBQ it is not worth the £74.99 that Homebase sell it for and I would not pay over £45 for this product. My second main criticism is that it is not the easier of BBQ's to assemble and requires two people to hold together to connect together securely and also to decipher the poor instructions that come with the BBQ as it does not show all the parts and screws clearly.
A good product and the first BBQ that we have owned that has lasted more than one summer.