* Prices may differ from that shown
Although we'd had a four slot toaster for years, the left hand side of it had stopped working many moons ago. We made do with the remaining two working slots for yonks before they too stopped working. We then decided to do without a toaster altogether and just use the grill function on the oven. That proved far too time consuming and fiddly not to mention an undoubtedly more expensive way to get one's morning toast. In the end a bargain deal on Amazon made up our minds for us, and we duly purchased a brand new four slot toaster for £22.95 (inclusive of free delivery).
The model we chose was the Tefal Avanti Classic (model number 523718) in rather stylish looking black with chrome to the handles and toasting slots. The toaster now matches all my other kitchen gadgets and gizmos which all tend to be black with silver handles or knobs.
~~~ WHAT'S IN THE BOX? ~~~
This is quite large toaster - it's just over 32cm wide with a similar 32cm depth and its height is just over 25cm. Therefore you need to find a big enough space on your worktop to accommodate it as it is on the bulky side. However, despite being on the large side this toaster is surprisingly light weighing in at just 2 kilos. It's therefore relatively easy to lift up and clean underneath to remove stray crumbs and then reposition on the worktop. The toaster is predominantly black with chrome buttons and matching chrome panels surrounding the four toasting slots. The labelling on the toaster is in white and red. I think it's a rather plain but attractive toaster and it looks good on my kitchen worktop as well as complimenting the other black and chrome kitchen fittings and implements that I have. Some reviewers on Amazon have complained that this toaster looks cheap and plasticky looking. However, although it's made predominantly from black plastic, the silver chrome accents on the toaster made it look very smart in my opinion and I certainly wouldn't describe it as cheap looking.
The toaster was easy to unpack and position and took literally minutes. Inside the box from Amazon was quite simply the toaster with plug already attached, the guarantee and a small instruction booklet. Therefore it was simply a case of removing all the packaging and then plugging in the toaster. Tefal advise you to turn the toasting dial up to No. 6 (this gives you maximum browning on your bread) and then depress both toasting slots for three sequential sessions before you start any real live toasting of bread in order to get rid of any plasticky smells or dust. This process worked a treat and we were soon able to get underway with the main business of the day i.e. toast and jam.
~~~ OPERATING ~~~
Obviously I don't need to describe how to toast bread here as every man and his dog has worked a toaster before, but I will describe the particular features of this model.
The buttons on the toaster are all of a good size, clearly labelled and easy to depress and operate. The front of the toaster has a silver dial from 1 to 6 on it. If you like your toast cremated chose No. 6 as this will give you maximum browning to your bread.
We tend to stick our dial on No. 4 and that gives us ideal toast. I like my toast nicely crispy to the outside but with the bread still slightly soft and moist in the middle. I hate toast that is in anyway burnt, charred and dry throughout. Once you've set the browning dial you need to depress either one or both of the two large silver levers to each side of the toaster which of course lowers the bread into the toaster and starts the toasting process. Although the toaster has four slots, both sides work independently so you can pop two slices of toast in either the left or right hand side if you really cannot force four slices down your neck for breakfast. When your toast is done it pops up ready to be decorated with copious amounts of butter, jam et al.
The Avanti Classic has a slightly angled front to it which is allegedly designed to let you see how your toast is doing without trying to peer inside and risk singeing your fringe or eye-brows. As this toaster has a rather powerful 1200 watt element, your toast does get toasted rather quickly and the curved front means you can keep an eye on those foodstuffs that love to burn as soon as you show them to a toaster i.e. pitta bread or any type of flatbread.
The toaster has a thick and thin feature which means you can toast bulkier items such as crumpets, English muffins and teacakes without getting them wedged inside the toaster and therefore burned to a crisp. The toaster has wider slots which contain self-centring guides which place the bread/teacake/crumpet right in the middle of the slot. This not only ensures a uniform toasting of the item but the wider slot means the chunkier food items don't get stuck inside the toaster. However, should by chance your thicker than average crumpet does get slightly wedged and you can smell burning, the toaster has two hi-lift levers, which pop the offending object out of the toaster quickly and at some speed. The toaster also has a stop/eject button which immediately turns the heat off.
The toaster also has a further two buttons, namely the reheat button and the defrost button. Both of these functions only work on the two left hand slots of the toaster so it's no good popping your frozen loaf into the right hand side slots of the toaster as it just won't play ball.
~~~ GOOD POINTS ~~~
The toaster is very simple to operate, and you don't need to phaff about too much with dials and levers to toast a variety of different items. As I said earlier, we tend to leave the browning dial on our toaster at No. 4 and this gives us consistently nicely browned bread. However, the beauty of this Tefal is that both sides are independent. So if your husband or wife like their toast cremated, the dial on their side of the toaster can be racked all the way up to No. 6 on the browning dial and they'll get their preferred burnt offering slightly later than the nice pale slice of toast you've set your heart on by using the other side of the toaster and option No.3 on the browning dial. Voila! No more arguments at breakfast....allegedly.
As the toasting slots are quite wide on this model toasting bulkier items like teacakes and crumpets does not present the toaster with a problem. Many a time a teacake would get wedged in our old toaster resulting in a revolting burned and charred offering once you'd managed to prise it from the hungry jaws of the toaster with whatever sharp and pointy object came to hand....thereby possibly electrocuting oneself as well as going hungry.
This Tefal is man enough to handle whatever you throw at it - huge door step slices of bread, thick English muffins or frozen waffles. If things do get a little too heated too quickly once the toasting process is underway, you can either press the stop/eject button to kill the heat or you can press the hi-lift button to remove the offending item from the toaster.
The toaster is pretty darn quick too. A 1200 watt element means that your toast has invariably popped up ready and done before you've finished making your accompanying cup of tea and assembled all the necessary accoutrements like jam, butter and such like.
~~~ TEETHING TROUBLES WITH THIS TOASTER ~~~
The instruction booklet with this toaster is short and to the point, but it does contain a lot of ridiculous detail which they are probably obliged to put in on the grounds of health and safety, but it does make you wonder if common sense is no longer taken into consideration when writing these pamphlets/instruction manuals nowadays. What sort of idiot needs to be told to "not place the toaster in the dishwasher" or to "not immerse the toaster in water or run water into the toaster". It beggars belief!
One thing to watch out for this toaster is that if you have an extra "tall" loaf like the ones we make in our Panasonic breadmaker, the very top bit of the slices will stick out the top of the toaster and remain untoasted as the slices are simply too big for the slots. This isn't so much of a problem for me as you simply turn the slice upside down and stick the untoasted section head down in the toaster after it's finished toasting the rest of the bread. However, if you eat a lot of homemade bread and your loaves are bigger than the average shop bought ones it may be something you need to consider.
The main drawback with this toaster is the flimsiness of the hi-lift levers. They've obviously been mounted on a spring that just isn't up to the job, and if you press the lever with too much force the spring can snap. We purchased our toaster from Amazon in early August and in less than four months the left hand hi-lift lever stopped working. I fired off a rather short email of complaint outlining the problem to Amazon and was not expecting anything at all in the way of a response. I was rather amazed and most impressed to get a response within an hour of sending my email informing me that a new replacement toaster had been dispatched to me by first class delivery and would be with me within two working days. How's that for service?
The new toaster did duly arrive within the promised time frame, and so far, so good. We're being extremely gentle with the hi-lift levers in the hope that neither of them break. The worst aspect of the Amazon replacement toaster saga was that they wanted the faulty toaster sent back to them in the same packaging that contained the new toaster. Although this was easy enough to do, Amazon insist that all returns are made through a Collect+ outlet and our nearest one was miles away.
~~~ SHINY AND NEW ~~~
The toaster is fairly easy to keep clean, but the black plastic does tend to show every single greasy fingerprint as well as every stray crumb in the vicinity. It's easy enough to wipe the front over with a damp cloth as that removes any greasy marks and crumbs. Like most kitchen utensils over time it does accumulate a layer of grease from daily cooking. I find a little bit of Cif on a sponge easily removes the worst of any caked on oiliness. You just then need to buff the chrome coloured bits of the toaster with a dry cloth and they look as good as new.
At 2kg the toaster is lightweight enough to lift up off the work-surface to get at the inevitable crumbs that lurk underneath it. At the back of the toaster are two easily removed crumb trays. They are rather on the shallow side, so you do need to remember to empty them fairly regularly as they will fill up fast if you like a lot of toast.
~~~ COST AND AVAILABILITY ~~~
We picked up our Tefal Avanti Classic toaster on Amazon for a bargain price of £22.95 in August. At the time of writing Amazon are now selling this model for £34.99 so I'm rather glad we snapped it up four months ago at a tenner less.
You can buy this toaster direct from Tefal for £39.99, Woolworths have it for £39 but Littlewoods want a whopping £50 for it. I certainly wouldn't pay £50 for this model but it's a reasonable enough buy at £25 or under. I daresay Amazon will drop their price again soon to a more reasonable price.
~~~ A TOAST TO THIS TEFAL? ~~~
This toaster looks rather nice on my work-tops and I'm very pleased with how nice it looks alongside my other chrome and black gadgets. It certainly toasts well and handles even the thickest and fattest items we throw into it with ease and quickness. It's most pleasant to pop a hot cross bun into this toaster knowing it's not going to get wedged inside. Before it was always a race to try and remove the burned item with a knife before it triggered the smoke alarm which in turn freaked the dog out. The toaster cleans up well with just a damp cloth and a quick buff.
However, the problem with the weak hi-lift button on this toaster means you have to treat it a lot more gently than you sometimes want to. In the early morning rush to get to work, it's often hard to remember that applying reasonable force to this button may make the spring inside snap and the handle then limp and useless.
I'm glad we only paid £23 for this toaster as I don't think its quick lift mechanism is robust enough to make this toaster worth more than £30 at the most. Several reviewers on Amazon also complain of problems with the lifting buttons so it is obviously a common fault with this toaster.
Recommended with four stars if you can remember to treat this toaster kindly and not be too heavy handed with the lifting mechanism.
~~~ TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS ~~~
A full description of this toaster can be found at http://www.tefal.co.uk/All+Products/Breakfast/Toasters /Products/Avanti+4+Slice+Black+Classic+ Toaster/Avanti+4+Slice+Black+Classic+Toaster.htm
* 4 slice toaster with two independent sides
* Power = 1800W
* Electronic browning control with dial (1 to 6)
* Defrost, reheat and stop/eject buttons
* Extra wide and deep bread slots
* Dimensions = 32cm x 32cm x 25cm
* Weight = 2kg
* High-speed toasting
* 2 x hi-lift levers
* Crumb tray
* Cord storage