“We’re having a party for 50 people, what have you got?” we said, to Campingaz.
“We’ve got just the thing!” they replied, and sent us the Party Grill 600, which became the provider of a mountain of grilled Halloumi, a cascade of Quorn sausages, a tsunami of veggie-burgers and a forest of skewered peppers for many an hour one evening last month. Brand new, out of the box, it served as the perfect way to cook a large volume of non-meats and keep those who were offended by the proximity of obscene amounts of meat from crying “Contamination!”.
But fear not, we also tested it on a few occasions with proper food like sausages, ribs, steaks and belly pork – all in the name of testing the drip-tray. Which it must be said is superb, just like the rest of the design of the Party Grill. It’s amongst the best large stoves we’ve ever tested and that’s thanks to a modular design which means it all comes apart easily, and converts between grill, bbq and stove. What’s the difference, you say? Well, let this picture do the explaining:
The Party Grill 600 is the largest of the range, and provides a big cooking area when you use it in griddle or bbq mode (I’ve preferred griddle mode for a slower, crisper cooking experience) – space enough to feed a family of 5 with great ease, and if you stagger the cooking, a great deal more.
The whole lot packs down in to an easily portable dome, which locks down via three clamps very quickly. The legs come off and stash in there too, so space in your car/storage is minimised when the stove isn’t being used.
The gas control is simple and effective, with a piezo-ignition (built in spark) so you don’t need matches. It’s a little difficult to tell when the gas is lit if you have the griddle in place, so you have to listen for the WOOF, or feel for heat (which is immediate).
The gas control is complemented by a temperature guage in the lid of the grill, so you can use it like an oven and get things thoroughly cooked through. That’s a good idea if you’re serving up chicken from scratch – nobody like food poisoning. And actually I found that really useful when we ran out of gas mid-way through a cooking session and I hadn’t noticed!
In terms of cooking, the griddle is ace. It’s flat on one side and ribbed on the other, and quite easy to clean (although you need a big kitchen sink!). The heat is pretty even, with sausages at the edge browning slightly slower than the middle, but with minimal shifting needed to keep things even.
The legs of the Party Grill are sturdy and secure, the whole thing is well built and even when on a slight angle it is rock solid and stable. And what’s particularly nice is that the aforementioned drip-tray works fine if the grill isn’t level. All the grease sits in a sort of bowl, rather than on a flat tray, so it can’t dribble off down the side like it does on some flat grills.
At £200 rrp, some people might take a sharp breath when comparing it to other camping stoves. But that would be doing it a disservice. It’s more akin to a “big” gas barbeque which retails at around the same price, but for your money you’re getting something which you can take camping, to the beach, or stick in the car boot with great ease as well as cook up a feast in your garden. That’s a bargain.