We recently moved to a condo and can't have a gas bbq. As we are year round bbqers we really miss it. After alot of research we have come up with the Dimplex Powerchef Electric BBQ. The fireplace store across from the St. Lawrence Market carries them and apparently they are pretty good. Anyone have any thoughts/experience with this product?
I can't speak for anyone else, but I've never seen an electric appliance that can produce a satisfactory grilling experience. They just don't get hot enough to develop any kind of grilled taste.
Gas can't possibly be illegal (assuming concrete construction), since quite a few Toronto condos come with a natural gas BBQ outlet on the balconies and I've been in many buildings where gas barbecuing on the balcony is allowed.
If you are specifically not allowed to have gas, is this about bringing a propane tank into the building? If so, you can get gas BBQs that either use, or can be adapted to use, the small propane cylinders typically attached to a torch. Not economical, but eminently workable and legal to bring indoors. Napoleon makes a small infra red model that can run on these.
If it's no gas, period, an old fashioned Japanese hibachi can do a great job with charcoal or wood.
Finally, there's the Woodflame. It's a Quebec creation that you can order online at www.woodflame.com
Unfortunately, they can't get any Ontario distribution (it's available in Quebec at Rona and Crappy Tire). It's compact, inconspicuous, and portable. The working principle electronically emulates a bellows aimed at an open hearth (the method used to cook a "Bistecca alla Fiorentina"). I have one, and the claims they make on their website are true.
If you decide to go this route, note the following:
- The size limitations are obvious on the website - you can't use one of these to cook for a crowd.
- You are cooking over pure hardwood - not charcoal - so the wood flavours come through. You don't need their wood - you can use any unsprayed hardwood chunks similar to what they show.
- It's really easy to cook a hunk of beef, burgers, and the like. A chicken, not so much. I wasted a few (butterflied) chickens before learning how to control the flame to not incinerate the chicken.
- It does work using batteries, but it works MUCH better on AC line power. You need their specific power adapter. I believe it's included but, if it isn't get one.
Fire code prevents you from bringing a propane tank through your building. You'll probably also find a "reasonable enjoyment" clause in your condo agreement. In other words, if your neighbours complain about fumes you'll have to stop. I would recommend going for the lowest possible cost option to start. That way you can gently check your neighbours' tolerance level.
As usual, embee is right about all things involving the alchemy of smoke and meat. A simple cast iron Habachi should service you nicely and are completely legal at least as far as fire code goes. I would further say you should check prevailing winds before deciding on nights to grill. Winds should sweep smoke away rather than into your building.
Electric bbq's. Meh. I eventually had to have one after a new neighbour moved in that complained if I sneezed too loudly. You can compensate for their weakness by foil bagging wood chips. Most don't have the space between element and grill to fit a smoker box. Honestly I found them inferior in every way. If I had to do it over again, I would have moved out earlier just to have a real bbq.
Weber has a small grill that uses the small cylinder propane tanks. I have been using one on my condo balcony for over a year and has worked great. you can purchase different accesories and cab easily be transported. The cylinders actually last a few hours.
Home Hardware sells them, along with Home Depot and most bbq stores.
Very surprised you can use the Weber grill on your balcony. Our condo doesn't allow any barbecues at all. According to Toronto law (I believe?) no one is allowed to do this.
Just found this:
Are barbecues allowed on apartment balconies?
Article 126.96.36.199. of the Ontario Fire Code reads "Open air burning shall not be permitted unless approved (by the Chief Fire Official), or unless such burning consists of a small confined fire, supervised at all times, and used to cook food on a grill or a barbecue". The Ontario Fire Code currently does not have any restrictions on where the barbecue can be located. However, the Ontario Propane and Natural Gas Codes should also be reviewed as do other jurisdictional requirements such as municipal by-laws and environmental regulations and by-laws.
Your condo can prohibit balcony cooking but Toronto, for once, actually allows it. You can't transport a 20 pound propane tank on your elevator or store one inside, but the one pound tanks commonly used for torches are completely legal. You can even store them indoors. Charcoal and wood fires used for cooking are also legal.
Of course, your neighbours can complain, but specific regulations typically govern this. If smoke blows into a neighbour's window, you've got to play nice.
I've used an electric Jenn-Air for years in the cold months, and that's been adequate, though not a real substiture. If that's not an option, I'd suggest searing in a hot castiron pan for steaks, or for other things, finishing up with a torch to crisp fowl skin.
I used an electric BBQ a few years ago ( I can't remember the make unfortunately), but it worked better than I thought it would. I found that the temperature was hot enough and I even got some flames from the grease dripping down onto the hot plates through the grills! Surprisingly the food actually came out with some smokey flavour , albeit not nearly equivalent to a gas BBQ. The biggest drawback of the electric BBQ, the one I had at least, was that you had to do quite a bit of cleaning (of the grill and the plates) after each use because you were not able to burn off all the juices that accumulated from the cooking so it was quite a bit of work.