OK, here is what I want: adjustable back so a sandwich doesn't get squished, tray for fat, easy clean, not huge.
Opinions? Breville? Cuisinart? Other?
Thanks for any opinions and advice.
We have the Cuisinart Griddler and are quite happy with it. The plates come off for cleaning, and if cooking something fatty there is a grease collector. We also have the waffle plates, which are quite good.
I used to have a Flama grill that I loved. The plates were removable - flat on one side, ribbed on the other. The top was on a hinge so it would float over whatever you were cooking. I kept it at work and would make sandwiches, chicken breasts, whatever - for lunch. You could set the temperature to low/medium/high and an indicator light telling you when it was ready to use. I think it had a timer so I could walk away from it if I needed to. It had 1650 watts of power so it browned everything nicely.
Over the years of abuse by me and the 8-10 employees who also used it, it got pretty beat up so I ended up "donating" it when I left. I bought a Breville Panini Duo for home use which I'm not as happy about. It doesn't have removable plates, bottom is flat, top plate is ribbed. There is no switch, it turns on when you plug it in. An indicator light tells you when it is ready, but you have no control over the temperature. It only has 1500 watts of power.
Edited to add: I am looking into the Breville Smart Grill. It has more of the features I am looking for other than just their panini grill.
I have a Cuisinart and bought it on sale as an impulse buy. It has turned out to be very useful. The top floats so everything you put in is flat. I have done chicken breasts, hamburgers veg and lots of paninis. It lays flat as a griddle and works ok. Good temperature controIs. I mostly use it for sandwiches, ribbed or flat. The removeable plates just go in the dishwasher. I don't do a lot of waffles but if the plates go on sale........
I've often considered such an appliance, but I've been happy with the results from my cast iron grill pan and a weighted press (from Lodge)...The only downside is it's tricky to clean the pan. I read on another post about using bamboo chopsticks...That sounds like a good idea. I also use the press on the griddle when making quesadillas that are over stuffed.
I have a Breville flat plate affair which definitely has a squish issue. The top is pretty heavy and the ratchet device to regulate how closely it shuts is a little tricky to judge. Some wafer thin cheese toasties have been the result!
The plates are non-removable, but clean up is not at all difficult.
Overall I'd probably look at other makes for a replacement.
As a bachelor I had the Sharper Image 4-in-1 Stainless Steel Grill - http://www.sharperimage.com/si/view/p.... I normally wouldn't buy kitchen tools from the Sharper Image (got this one as a gift), but it turned out to be pretty good. I have since donated this respectable multi-tasker to someone who will put it to better use (read: younger sister in med school), but occasionally wish I still had it around. I wasn't a waffle fan until a I got this and one day found a box of sweet potato waffle mix in the grocery store - delicious!
It has two waffle plates (top and bottom), two "ridged" plates for George Forman style cooking and panini making, and one flat plate for griddling. It can unfold to lie completely flat or close on itself.
When using it as a panini press, it can't support infinitely big sandwiches like a panini pan with separate press as I quickly found out (my paninis tend to start at the 8-10 inch range until pressed to 1-2 inches), and squeezing it down would cause some of the ingredients to slide out the side (note: placing the sandwich as far from the hinge as possible results in the least amount of sliding), but it is probably adequate for most normal appetites.
The temperature controls on this are fairly refined and useful.
Clean up is pretty simple - the plates are removable and dishwasher safe.
The one recommendation I would give to Sharper Image is to give two flat griddle plates instead of just one.
If I'm making a single sandwich, I use a little George Foreman. It has an adjustable back.
More frequently, I use a lodge CI griddle pan or large CI skillet for larger quantities.