325 of 342 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful solidly designed and built press that really would have been better with removable plates.,
This review is from: Breville BSG520XL Panini Duo 1500-Watt Nonstick Panini Press (Kitchen)
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The immediate comparison I made when I received this Panini press was to the Cuisinart GR-3 Griddler Jr, Brushed Stainless Steel, and the key difference between the two products (and the reason I'm giving the better constructed, perhaps even better performing press three stars rather than five) is you can remove the plates in the Cuisinart, and you cannot in the Breville. Convenience and ease of use are central considerations when it comes to just how much you're going to want to use these 'extra' kitchen devices, and if it's a headache to clean something like burnt/stuck preserves, then you're going to be less likely to want to pull it out and use it again.
I want to back up a little bit, because I think Breville generally designs and manufactures outstanding high-quality but still affordable products. This press is no exception. Having used both this Breville and the aforementioned Cuisinart, I would give the Breville the edge on almost every single front. It feels more solidly constructed of higher quality materials, it seems to heat more evenly, although the Cuisinart does allow a range of temperature settings as opposed to Breville's one-temp-fits-all approach. I actually like having one flat and one grilled plate in the Breville, compared to the two grilled plates in the Cuisinart -- the flat surface providing a much more even and consistent heat that really radiates into the middle of the sandwich better than the more limited surface contact provided by just grill plates (but you still have the all-important texture and grill marks from the top plate). Both adapt to larger sandwiches. Both sport non-stick surfaces (although the Breville's is much smoother as the Cuisinart employs a grittier non-stick treatment). Both are perfectly sized for a couple good-sized sandwiches, without all the wasted space that comes with and from the larger models in each line.
I like this press enough that even as I wrap this review up I wonder if I should be giving it 4 stars rather than 3. Standing on its own, it deserves every bit of 4 stars. It's when it's held in contrast to a like-priced alternative like the Cuisinart that the Breville loses some of its luster, and then really only due to a question of pure convenience (in the form of removable plates).
If those removable plates aren't of particular importance to you, I actually recommend this press over the Cuisinart. For me, the convenience of cleaning the removable plates provide is what makes it an easy decision between the two when I want to grill a sandwich.
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Showing 1-10 of 17 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 31, 2009 7:58:57 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 31, 2009 8:00:43 AM PST
The Cuisinart Griddler comes with flat plates as well, so if you like the design of the Breville, you can also mimmick it in the Griddler by inserting a flat plate on the bottom and the grill plate on top. Good review. I agree that the lack of removable plates is a pretty big flaw.
Edit: I see that you compared it with the GR-3, which actually might not have flat plates with it like the Gr-4 that I was thinking of does.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2010 9:59:58 PM PST
W. C. Bryant says:
Wish the GR-4 had been out when we bought our GR-3. We're very happy with the GR-3, we just wish it had come with both grilled and flat plates (2 sets) so we could mix and match as we please. Honestly, it's sort of disappointing Breville decided not to make the plates removable on this model, that's all that keeps it from being ideal (for our needs). Still, nice press.
Posted on Oct 8, 2010 8:01:22 PM PDT
removable plates is a great concept, but in reality they actually lower the quality of the panini maker, in my experience.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 4, 2010 12:51:12 PM PST
how so? can you please elaborate on how a removable plate can lower the quality? does this cause uneven heating?
Posted on Apr 1, 2011 12:14:39 PM PDT
E. Kim says:
just wanted to say this was a beautiful review. well done!
Posted on Dec 31, 2011 12:55:24 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 31, 2011 1:00:19 PM PST
Do you own an oven.. it has racks. or a grill. You remove them and clean them. You do not do that to a Pizza oven. Why not? Because the flavor seeps into the stone or the iron. It coats it. You might say wait a minute its not clean. Well when it heats up you kill the bacteria which made the dough you eat. That dough created by the bacteria becomes infused in the metal.
I believe the Breville design was made by a Chef who knows how to infuse taste into a product. When you buy a Chinese Wok the first think you do is flavor it. this Breville is doing the same thing. They don't want it removed they want whats cooked on it engrained on it for taste. Every grill master knows it's the smoke in the parts that makes the food. Maybe I'm wrong Prove it I dare you to.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 31, 2011 1:55:20 PM PST
W. C. Bryant says:
This is curiously contentious.
I think you make good general points. I own (and love) a number of cast iron pots and pans. They are unmatched in quality and performance for certain tasks, for all of the reasons you mention above. Cleaning these pans the same way I might my All-Clad stainless, or a copper pot, or a glass bowl would, as you suggested, rob these pans of the very seasoning that makes them so special.
Then there's this modestly priced tool of convenience -- a home panini press with non-stick (Quantanium) coated aluminum plates. For my own pattern of usage, being able to toss the plates into the dishwasher would simply be more convenient than not being able to. That was the whole of my point. Were these plates indeed made of cast iron or another porous metal like carbon steel, then everything you said would make as much sense to me as it does to you -- but then we wouldn't be talking about an affordable, light, and convenient smaller sandwich press.
At the end of the day, reviews are typically the opinions of those who write them. Assign value (or a lack thereof) as you see fit. How I use a product may not be how you're using it, what's important to me may well not be important to you. That's why it's nice that there are so many different voices, and even nicer that we can talk about various issues and concerns here in the discussion area below each. There's no more need for you to dare me to do anything than there is a point in one of us being 'wrong.' The product is what it is. I wish the plates were removable. I don't see tremendous value in treating Quantanium coated aluminum as I would cast iron. None of this has to be at odds with your own perspective and approach.
Thanks for the comments -- to each and every one of you who took the time to respond.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2012 12:04:19 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 1, 2012 12:04:46 PM PST
No way the makers of this product intended it to be used that way. I own several pieces of cast iron and am familiar with the concept of infusing flavor into the food, but that doesn't include old stuck on cheese. This product definitely would be better with removable plates.
Posted on May 4, 2012 2:11:33 PM PDT
I love this machine, and I am glad the plates are not removeable. The unit is very solid, and extremely easy to clean.
In reply to an earlier post on May 4, 2012 2:33:29 PM PDT
Why do you prefer non-removable plates to removable ones? What is the advantage of plates you can't take out to clean to ones you can?