gas range choices
In the final stage of kitchen design for our NYC co-op, and we are finding the selection of new range more problematic than expected. We are choosing between GE Cafe, Wolf R304, Blue Star and possibly Bertizzoni. We are serious cooks but not professional chefs and are not sure we will ever use the potential of Wolf.
You are worried about the Wolf? The best range on your list is the Blue Star (used to be Garland). Blue Star can sell you a unit with 22K BTU burners, the hottest burners available for residential use. If you ever want to cook food anything like restaurant quality, its all about the heat.
I own a 48 inch BS with 8 burners and have been very pleased with it. That is me. Others have their preferences. I would think being in NYC you would have access to a lot of hands on opportunity and shop around which I would recommend. It is going to be with you a long time.
Wolf R304 does not have all that much potential.
I would look at Blue Star RNB and Capital Culinarian.
With the Capital,in addition to 23 btu open burners, you can also get a self clean gas oven and motorized rotisserie.
I have a Blue Star 30" cooktop, and one of the things I love about it is that it makes great use of limited space. There is more than enough room to fit four 12" pots and pans on it at a time. This is markedly different from the piece of junk that occupied the same tight spot in my kitchen before I sent it to the landfill. Having the knobs below the cooking surface opens up extra real estate for actual cooking, and as an added bonus, the knobs don't get greasy or otherwise messed up.
I agree with the BS. The Culinarian was not available when we bought our BS. Eurostoves had some nice videos on the burners showing heat patterns and tests on speed of boiling. Good info. Regarding the Culinarian, even though it was not out at the time, I think I would choose BS again if I had to choose. I like the star burners. As for the the additional 1000 BTUs, maybe for some it is important, and that is fine. Personal preference. The rotisserie to me would be just something to go bad in the future that I could not personally repair without a major dissection of the oven. I will admit they are nice; we have one on our grill and the motor mounts to the spit. But I just don't think I would like one in the oven. As a matter of fact, the built in oven that came with the house had a rotisserie. Did not work. A new Kenmore in 1997 cost slightly more than getting the avocado colored oven repaired with parts and technician. The kitchen remodel (2007/08) was an add-on to the house got us over 500 square feet of kitchen, a large built in Frigidaire oven, microwave, and warming drawer, and the 48 inch BS. We are very happy. It is a great gathering place, like a harvest kitchen, when family is over for holidays or just because. Cook, talk, cards, dominoes, coffee, just comfortable. Sorry for the ramble.
I love my Wolf, I think that the Wolf ranges all have the same dual stacked burners now. There used to be a difference in that the Wolf AG had semi open burners. The "best" range will depend on how you cook and your priorities. I would think about what features you would use the most.
I would read the appliance forum at gardenweb. All kinds of discussions there will give an idea of strengths and weaknesses of all these ranges. People are sometimes heavily invested in their choices and it is hard to see past their own ideas of what is best for another person.
I like that the Wolf has very low heat on all of the burners. I use the very low heat everyday. I still have plenty of heat to sear steaks and do 1-2 lbs of stirfry at a time. I do not care how long it takes to boil water.
Have you ruled out DF? I have the electric oven and love the various baking and roasting modes. It also has the third convection element. I had never had convection before this and hope to never be without it. Of course the gas ovens have the infrared broilers but I use the various modes more than the broiler.
Besides considering the levels of heat that you would use the most, look at how you think the range would be to keep clean and how the range would be serviced if need be.
Hopefully you can try the various ranges out and read the instruction manuals.
Good luck with your choice.