There’s something really special about grilled bread. I know you’re thinking, but you live in LA, and you survive on rabbit food and water. How right you are, but every once in a while, this rascally rabbit likes to have her veggies grilled to perfection. And by once in a while, I mean morning, noon and night. It’s my thing. I have to say, my 10-year-old George Foreman grill for 2 (with bun warmer that’s been broken for past 4 years) has been quite the trooper in the war against eating deep fried food. However, as I like to grill for 2 people, and not have it take an hour because of the grill surface area, me thinks it’s time for an upgrade. Enter the T-fal OptiGrill.
Opening the T-fal OptiGrill is impressive. First, the packaging ain’t no 10-year old cardboard with Mr. Foreman posing in an apron. Rather, the OptiGrill lists bullet points of all the reasons it will sit permanently on my countertop. So, I’m very intrigued and my expectations are on the rise. I pull the solid grill out of the box and immediately see it is all together, except for the drip tray that slips easily into the bottom of the machine. Besides that, it’s ready to go. Most of the OptiGrill is stainless, with a few black plastic parts to it. But I truly don’t mind them, as the machine has a contemporary wash to it. It’s got a solid, easy to grip handle, where the buttons for the 6 pre-programmed cooking modes are located. They are marked easily with little pictures of good – steak, chicken leg, lambchop, hamburger, fish, etc., and there’s a large light dial on the right. Seems fairly easy to unload and use, but I say I’ll be patient and make sure I’m not missing anything and read-the-directions. *gasps*
I read the directions like a good first-time user, and notice there’s a bit to get ready. First I have to wash the plates with soap and water. Now this seems like a no-brainer, but most tabletop items’ electronics are not submersible under water. Which can suck when you’re trying to clean them. I am surprised that this grill comes with removable plates. Yeah! Makes cleaning easy. Now before the first batch of broccolini goes in, I reset the plates, and warm the grill up. I did not expect this 5 minute step. Yes we pre-heat our ovens, but since tabletop grills are such small surface areas, I just think, plug it in, press ON and we are good to go. So since I’m ‘reading the manual’, I pre-heat the grill, then plop the veggies down for their moment in the heat.
First impressions of the grill? This thing is solid. It isn’t small, and since my kitchen isn’t a big one, I am not sure if this item will live on my countertop as I hoped, but I do appreciate the heft. The base is heavy and has little rubber heels to keep it from sliding around. The drip tray slips into its own little cubby drawer, the top has weight and once pressed down, I am confidant will sear the top as well as it does the bottom. The grill comes with 6 preprogrammed cooking settings, and a sensor that adjusts to the thickness of food. Plus the very bright indicator light tells you what stage of cooking the food is at, so your food never really gets burnt – I mean unless you’re doing laundry or decide to take a shower in the middle of cooking, then I can’t help you.
The results: Although it does take a few minutes to warm up the plates, I love the indicator lights. It’s super bright. And the veggies come out DELICIOUS! Honestly, I really love how hefty the plates are and how flush they sit on the surface of food, leaving these really beautiful grill marks. Most of the grills I meet overcook veggies, or just burn them. This one did a great job of cooking them, and still having that small crisp bite. Plus I like the little bumps on the bottom plate to keep food from slipping off the slightly angled grill plate. I hate chasing asparagus down the grill onto my stove, so these litle nubs come in handy.
Back to my veggies, I think perhaps a few grills can handle making good veggies, but bread, well it tastes really good only out of a charcoal bbq. But low and behold, those even grill marks lead my mouth on a little romp through crusty bread heaven. I mean, come on. It’s toast! But it has so much more flavor and depth thanks to the OptiGrill – and that really surprises me. Rub on some garlic, fresh tomato, pour on some olive oil, and I am transported back to the tapas restaurant in Barcelona.
With the success of an entire grilled meal in 20 minutes (3 grills full of veggies and a 2nd helping of bread after I shoveled mine), I have to report that the OptiGrill has a permanent place in my small kitchen. This device started off slow, but hit the finish line like an Olympic Athlete, sticking the landing and impressing me to the point I want it on my Wheaties box. My next adventure will be to make actual protein like fish or meat in there. But for now, I am very impressed with how it tackles my veggies, and gives them that savory grilling flavor right from my countertop.
Why do you care – you can make veggies taste good, and be healthy, even the bitter crap like eggplant comes out edible.
Is it worth your money – YES.