This isn't a brightly coloured miniaturised UFO. It's actually the LotusGrill, a German designed and manufactured smokeless charcoal grill/BBQ. It comes in a variety of alluring colours to make sure that the standout design acquires the originality it deserves, these are black, green, two shades of orange, plum purple and red. It has a price tag of £129.99 within the UK and $300 within the USA.
After testing the LotusGrill over the summer, we've found a product that encourages the activity of grilling and barbecuing like no other product within this category we've previously had experience using.
The setup process is as follows: Remove the grill from the supplied zipped bag used to store and carry the grill around in, then there are a few components that attach together in a matter of seconds. First we have the stainless steel bowl which sits within the main exterior steel body and then the ignition plate sits on this, it requires a circular layer of lighter gel applied and then ignited. Turning the air control knob to the maximum position, a filled charcoal container with its cover equipped, which has a capacity of roughly 250g of charcoal, is then placed on top of the ignition plate. Now all we have to do is attach the grill grid on top of the inner bowl securely via two latches and the setup is complete.
Heat Up Time, Smokeless & Controllability
Once the grill is set up, the charcoal will begin to glow a toasty orange; in our tests it heated the grill grid ready for use in three minutes. From igniting the grill to grilling, we had a totally smoke free zone every time. The LotusGrill in operation is reliably clean; not just because the smoke has been banished, but because the excess fat and oil can’t burn from contact with the charcoal due to the grill grid's design, and harmful polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are an effect of such actions, are completely restricted.
The immediacy of the grill being ready to use is a striking contrast to other charcoal BBQ/grills we've had experiences with, which can take hours and include uncomfortable amounts of smoke before reaching the desired heat. The inbuilt battery driven controllable fan, powered by four included AA batteries, sucks in air and distributes it through the ignition plate, so it doesn't just bring us a speedy start, but it also makes heat controllable; a rare thing in the charcoal cooking scene and it works terrifically, with the grill grid's temperature quickly reflecting the adjustment to the air flow made. The ventilation control knob has a blue ring of LEDs surrounding it, so the LotusGrill is also easily accessible to use in dimmer environments too.
Capacity & Results
The grill grid on the LotusGrill is big enough to accommodate enough food for a group or family of four. A full charcoal container with 250g will burn steadily for a respectable twenty minutes to half an hour, depending on the temperature outdoors. If more grill grid space is required, a new LotusGrill XL, featuring a bigger grill grid for larger groups, is available. We've grilled burgers, sausages, chicken nuggets, vegetables and bread rolls on our LotusGrill. Nothing we grilled seriously burnt and instead food cooked quickly and evenly throughout. Also, our food did have a lovely infused smoked flavouring from the smouldering charcoal, despite the fact that smoke isn't visibly present when using the LotusGrill. The quality of the grilling/barbecuing is aided by the adjustability of temperature and the fact that no flames touch the food on the grill grid. When all is finished you can wait for the LotusGrill's charcoal heat to naturally die down, or you can easily whisk out the charcoal container unit and pour water over it if in a hurry.
The main steel body of the LotusGrill doesn't get anywhere near the level of being too hot to touch. For this reason it's safe and easy (weighing just 3.7kg) to move around in an outdoor setting to shelter from rain or heavy winds. This also meant we were able to use the LotusGrill whilst it sat on wooden benches or grassy ground without any fears that the body could cause safety problems. Something we have been reluctant to test is using the LotusGrill indoors. LotusGrill claim you can do this in well ventilated areas and we can't argue with the claim; it's practically smokeless after all.
A lot of people invest huge sums of money in BBQ grills and leave them idle for months on end because it seems like too much effort to set them up and then wait for them to fire up. As the LotusGrill can be set up and be ready to grill in less than four minutes, it encourages frequent and flexible usage, not to mention that the heat can be controlled, there's no smoke and it's portable even when in use!