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  • Smeg's attitude to customers
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      02.07.2009 00:16

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      Agree with all the last person wrote, but after a few years all of the markings rubs off and their less than helpful customer service; best suggestion is to spend £150 on a new control panel. Their stuff looks great, but is shoddy. Dont touch with a bargepole!

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      20.09.2005 17:14
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      Smeg Ovens

      Ladies and gentlemen, in this review, I'm going to wax lyrical about SMEG....

      That's an oven.

      Apologies to anyone who reads Ciao and has seen a version of this review before.

      Ok apology over, here goes.

      Three years ago, Mr Sweary and I decided it was time to re-vamp our kitchen. We were living with the one which came with the house which was fine really but it had been there since 17 years before us and it was designed in about 1982. Tence the floor was bright red lino with manky brown bits at the side, the cupboards were pine, the tiles were a kind of spray diffused public bog grey, the work surfaces were grey patterned - you know like the walls in an aeroplane - the doors were bright blue with red handles all the towel rails were red and the oven was a complete pile of pants!

      It was old, gas powered and had only two settings, RED HOT or off. And when I say red hot I mean you could probably smelt iron in it, you could fry eggs on the door after about 10 minutes and by dint of the fact it didn't melt I can only assume the lining was made of cunningly disguised ganister. Not only that but the door didn't close so you had to lean your knee against it long and hard enough to get it to shut but not so long your skin began to bubble and burn through your trousers and fused itself to the red hot metal....

      So.... what I'm saying in a rather long-winded way is that when we set out to "do" the kitchen we started with the oven.

      WHAT WE WANTED

      We wanted a double oven because we wanted to be able to cook and grill at the same time. Unfortunately this immediately adds about £300 to the price of any cooker but as far as I'm concerned having the grill separate from the oven is pretty much essential. We also wanted a slightly larger oven than normal that allowed us to get four pots on, even if two were frying pans, without having to shuggle them about. Finally we wanted it gas throughout, gas oven, grill and hob.

      The first thing we discovered is that it is almost impossible to get a totally gas oven, I'd take an educated guess that this is because there isn't any way of equipping a gas oven with a timer and most people like the idea of being able to bung a stew in the oven in the morning, set the timer, go out to work, come home and find the stew is cooked! We're no different so in the end we traded the "hot enough to do creme brulee" gas option for a combination oven with gas burners and an electric oven and grill... and a plumbers blowtorch for the creme brulees.

      I also read, although I don't know whether it's true, that all oven elements are made in china somewhere and are the same, regardless of which brand of oven they end up in and that all actual ovens are a standard 50cm wide - irrespective of the size of the outer casing - to accommodate these standardised elements. This might explain why ranges often put a pair of ovens side by side in a situation where I'd usually expect to find one huge one but I haven't been able to verify this.

      We didn't really want to spend £2,000 or thereabouts on a range cooker especially as the only person we knew who owned one had spent about £3,000 for the most willfull and tempermental product since Microsoft Word. Worse our budget for the entire kitchen was £3,500 so even though we intended to spend a lot on the oven we couldn't go over £1,000 as that was almost a third of our budget. However, as stated, we did want something which was a bit wider at the top so we could comfortably fit four saucepans on it at once. The SMEG A42 "Opera" range was therefore a perfect answer as it's 70cm wide, I think that's around 3ft in old money, so it has solved the saucepan accommodation problem.

      HOW DID WE HEAR ABOUT SMEG?

      Obviously our decision to buy a SMEG cooker was nothing to do with its amusing name but it does go nicely with our Siemens tumble dryer...

      To be honest, I first came across SMEG at work. A while back, I was lucky enough to work for a technology company which made gizmos for the world of motorsport. There was a framed signed photograph of Gilles Villeneuve on the wall in the office. He was wearing a red racing suit with the word "SMEG" emblazoned across it in huge letters and as thoroughly mature Red Dwarf fans, naturally we found this absolutely hilarious. I was curious to find out what the bravely named SMEG company actually did and I discovered they were Italian and that they made high-end kitchen appliances.

      WHAT IT COST

      At the time we bought this one it had a "list price" of about £1,200 or thereabouts, or at least, that's what it was in Rackhams and John Lewis so we decided to have a look on the internet. There are advantages to this, the main one for us being that we could have had the oven, a stainless steel back and a chimney extractor hood for £1,100 from Appliances Online, the disadvantage being that we have a sloping roof in our kitchen so if we wanted to actually be able to see or get any saucepans underneath the extractor - let alone comply with our standard 70cm gap twixt ring and thing - this was a no no. We did source a non chimney hood elsewhere (boy what a palaver that was - never try to buy anything in a style that's not trendy people, it'll drive you nuts - but I digress). In the end we bought the oven on its own for £900. This is pretty steep but by the time we'd sourced one with a separate oven and grill, many of the highly unexciting standard sized ovens, even those built on an exact blue print of our old one, came to about £700 so it didn't come as quite such a shock as it might have done.

      BUYING ON LINE

      The advantage of buying on line is that you often save several hundred pounds off the price of something like a cooker and it's delivered to your door. The disadvantage is that you have to arrange to get the gas man and the electrician to come on the same day to fit it. Delivery also complicates things since most vendors give an approximate morning or evening slot so it's best to have somewhere to store it for a couple of days so you can allow for any hiccups in delivery before the blokes arrive to fit it. Ours had delivery time of 28 days but we couldn't actually track down anybody with a space in their schedule to fit it for a further 8 days after it arrived! We couldn't get the gas and electric blokes on the same day, either, so we went for getting the gas in first because at least that way we could use the rings to boil things and heat up baked beans or spag bol. That said, the total cost of installation still came to less than we would have spent on the oven alone, anywhere else so we were pretty happy.

      WHAT WE GOT

      The Smeg A42 is heavy and solid with adjustable legs so it can even sit straight on a wibbly wobbly old house floor like ours. It looks fab. It's all stainless steel, mirror glass doors and matching knobs. Fantastic. And it's called SMEG.

      It comes with four burners, small, medium, bigger and boil a hippo whole size. This is absolutely fine for us and our vast American shuggly saucepans. It's stainless steel, which can be a pain to keep clean but you can make it look a lot less smeary after you've washed it if you polish it with a light coating of olive oil. The rings all come apart so they can be washed separately or even put through the dishwasher and the bits that go over the top that the saucepans actually sit on (heaven knows what those are actually called) are made of heavy cast iron which keeps everything firmly in place. They're designed in such a way that you can move the saucepan off the heat and put it slightly to one side without it falling over which is a big bonus in my book. They also get good and hot, yet simmer things equally effectively. Very handy.

      The cooker came with a certain amount of equipment:

      two grill pans
      two shelves for the oven, itself
      a thing that allows you to do spit roasts under the grill or in the oven
      a pair of handles so you can easily remove the grill pan
      a thing to make it easier to stand a wok on the rings
      a baking tray
      a special liner to slide into the top of the oven which can be removed and cleaned at regular intervals.

      The liner is a great idea as it makes it much easier to keep clean. In addition, both grills do get hot enough to brulee creme brulees most of the time, although the grill in the oven heats up more quickly and does the job that little bit better than the "top oven"/pukka grill. Surprisingly, when using the top and bottom grills you are supposed to keep the door shut. This can be annoying as the doors get greasy and will not be properly transparent until they've seen a lot of Mr Muscle orange action. That said, this oven is at least 2 years old now and still scrubs up well throughout. The only problem area for cleanliness is the surface above the elements of the top oven grill (see the disappointments section).

      The main oven is pretty accurate and I haven't had any trouble adjusting from bog standard to fan, which I thought I might. It does brown things a little more at the front where the heat is reflected backwards off the door but there's a very straightforward solution to this problem; put things further in. Isn't science wonderful?

      In standard fashion, the top oven is designed to be used when the bottom oven is on, if you cook using just the top oven, temperatures are much lower. This doesn't cause me any problems since I usually use it as an overflow if I'm using it at all, otherwise it's the grill or a place to warm up plates. It does annoy my husband though as he feels it's wasteful to use the main oven for small things and always gets irritated when he tries to use the top oven and finds everything is still raw long after the bottom oven would have cooked it.

      The instruction manual is written in very polite English, translated from Italian. It's clear enough but wonderfully quaint and worth reading for a laugh. Our model has an analogue clock which comes with a timer. It also has the usual cooking option which allows you to set when it comes on and off but also, if it's on at the time, you can set it to cook for a certain amount of time and then turn itself off. This is really handy if you want to nip upstairs for a bath without fear that you're going to King Alfred the evening meal.

      DISAPPOINTMENTS

      The extractor or fan - or whatever it is that blows air out of the back - rattled when we first got it and I had to tighten the screws and add a couple of washers to make it quieter.

      The back left hand ring is quite high and the cast iron pot holder upper sitty on thing is only a couple of millimetres clear of the top. This isn't a problem in iteslf but initially it was quite scary....

      Although the main oven comes with a liner for the top which you can take out and clean the top oven doesn't. Even though the ceiling of the top oven is covered with self cleaning material you only have to cook a couple of lamb chops and it's all glued up with rock-hard, caramelised fat which is really hard to clean off.... I don't want to damage the self cleaning surface even if it isn't working brilliantly so this may just be down to my circumspection in the choice of cleaning materials!

      WOULD I RECOMMEND IT?

      Actually, yes. It's solid, relibale and does what it's supposed to do, for the most part, extremely well. It gets one star off for the pain in the butt to clean grill but otherwise, I really like this oven! Even better it's incredibly straightforward to use and yes.... it does have an extremely amusing name.

      Thank you for reading.

      Sweary.

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        12.12.2002 18:03
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        • "Smeg's attitude to customers"

        I wish to warn others that Smeg cookers can prove to be very unreliable, and the chance of Smeg helping you is slim once the guarantee has expired. I bought a Smeg A2 cooker three years ago. In that time I have had two oven fan motors burn out, the ignition system shorted, the gas burners will not stay on once lit and the ignition system starts spontaneously in the middle of the night. Smeg seem happy to leave their customers feeling angry and let down. I had a twenty year old Belling before which was totally reliable, never did a thing wrong, thought not very stylish. Well after spending nearly two grand on Smeg's "Technology with Style", I now say stuff the style, I just want technology that works.

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          05.09.2002 18:09
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          • Heavy

          Why would anyone spend £1000+ on a cooker? Well, we hadn't planned to, but when it came to the crunch, because of the type of cooker we were looking for, there wasn't really much choice. We are lucky enough to have an absolutely perfect location for a decent freestanding cooker in our kitchen, and the gap size was just over 70cms. Most standard appliances are 60cm, but we have heard that there are a (small) selection of cookers that are available in different widths, and whilst conducting our research we found that the extra 10cms width (now stop it!) really did make a huge difference to the cooking area over the standard 60cms. Our choices were limited: The Smeg (£1050), CDA (£800), Zanussi (£650), Baumatic (£700), or a Stoves (£1000). The Zanussi, Baumatic and the Stoves were ruled out straightaway because they all had single ovens only, which when you spend this much money on a cooker is not really adequate. So the choice came down to the CDA and the Smeg. They both look similar, with the new CDA copying the Smeg's timeless, cool style somewhat (and who can blame them), and both have similar functionality. What tipped it was that at £800 the CDA was 'only' £250 cheaper than the Smeg, and it really couldn't match it on looks, or build quality - so it started to look overpriced. Added to that the extra features that the Smeg had (more below), and the £250 difference started to look smaller than it did at first - so we went for it. Delivery came shortly after, and be warned, if you go for this cooker, it is VERY heavy. However take off the incredibly substantial packaging and it sheds a few kilo's and makes it easier to move. There were some really annoying warning stickers stuck to the glass doors which were difficult to move (we resorted to White Spirit in the end which won?t damage the glass), which was a slight annoyance. Using it is a joy, it is lovely to use, everything works
          nicely, and turns beautifully, and you just want to keep opening and shutting the doors to feel that quality. As for features, will the first is that it is self cleaning! Smeg make quite a big thing of this in the documentation, and I won't explain how it does it, but it works! Apart from the grill pans the doors or sides never seem to need a dose of Mr Muscle. Great stuff. The second best thing is the rotisserie function which is great for cooking chicken's and other things that need even cooking - it also helps because the fat drops off the food rather than being cooked in it so is healthier. There are a host of other things like the superb range of gas burners, including a super rapid burner, and a wok attachment. The cooker came with a host of grill pans, rotisserie attachments, handles etc, so everything was there to start using it straightaway. Lastly, it just looks so cool, but in an odd way also looks very timeless. The lines are clean simple and should let fashions pass it by. It is the single most expensive thing we have ever bought (apart from car's and a house!) but is one that will last 30 years+ so over the time, although it may not seem it at first, we reckon it makes it a good value choice. Highly recommended.

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            16.05.2001 19:00
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            I enjoy cooking and like to use well designed, practical, long lasting appliances. This cooker lives up to all my hopes, despite its large price. The oven doors are triple glazed and have an air stream inside them to keep them cool to the touch, even after extended cooking, which means no accidents waiting to happen to children. The only criticism I have about the cooker is that you have to be very careful opening the oven doors as the blast of air from the door can blow hot gases at you. The number of functions is more than adequate, including a defrost function in the main oven - no heat, just a flow of air - which defrosts very efficiently. The grill can be combined with the oven heat to really blast food with heat. The hobs include one huge burner which makes wok cooking a joy; and having an extra metal bar at each side gives the impression of a much larger cooking area keeping hot pots away from delicate surfaces. The cast iron pan stands are nice too and very hard wearing.

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          • Product Details

            Four burners including one ultra-rapid with automatic electronic ignition, multi-function electric main oven, conventional secondary oven with grill, digital electronic programmer, stay-clean oven liners and rotisserie / Features include: 12 Functions Digital electronic programmer with multi-display Quadruple glazed removable door Tangental cooling Removable inner door glasses 5 cooking levels Control lock Rapid pre-heating Easy clean enamel interior Rotisserie Nominal power: 3.0 kW Conventional: 0.99 kW/h Forced air convection: 1.05 kW/h 13 Amp power supply required Standard accessories:Telescopic guidesExtra deep roasting panRoasting/grill panGrill meshChrome shelfRoof linerRotisserie Kit / Short name: Smeg A42