I can hear the questions, “You’re reviewing the side-burner? What’s up with that?” It seems a little crazy doesn’t it? I’ve got this brand new gas grill that I’m writing about and all I want to talk about so far is the packing material and the side-burner. There is a method to my madness. Let me explain my reasoning.
One of the reasons is I felt I got a little burned with a review of a grill a couple of years ago. I was quite impressed with the grill but over time I came to realize it wasn’t the great grill I thought it was. Small, insignificant, little things went all wrong over time and these little things have left a bitter taste in my mouth.
As I mentioned in my earlier post, about the grill, I believe there is a lot to be learned about the quality of a product by taking an in-depth look at the little things, like the packing. The side-burner of a grill is another feature that, in my book tells a lot about how much care the manufacturer put into designing and building the grill. I remember reading some where once that the side-burner on the average gas grill is one of the most requested features, but also one of the least used. It seems since consumers say they want a side-burner the manufacturers feel they have to offer one. And that’s why for most of the average consumer grills the side-burner is an after-thought for the makers of grills. In my, not always humble, opinion that is why I think most side-burners are not a practical cooking tool.
I have used the side-burner on my new Saber Cast 500 by Saber Grills more in the past three weeks than I have used the side-burner of my previous gas grill in three years. Why? Because it works. The side-burner on the Saber appears to actually be designed and built for real use instead of stuck there because a grill “has to have one.”
Take a look at the difference in the grates. The grate on the left is nothing more than cheap metal rods welded into a platform. When compared to the grate on the right, off the Saber, you can see why attention to detail is an important feature to look at.
Now you can see why I mentioned, in a previous post, that I was never comfortable putting a heavy cast iron skillet full of oil on my old side-burner. I can fry with this side-burner and I’m happy about that and so is the family because I can fry fish outside.
Cooking with my cast iron wok outdoors is something I really love to do. The grate on the Saber side-burner when you flip it over is designed to hold a wok. This was one feature I was looking forward to having. Using my Char-Broil oil-less turkey fryer to heat my wok works well but it would be nice to have something higher off the ground. But somethings are just to good to be true and this leads to my first disappointment with the Saber grill. As you can see in the picture to the left there are raised nubs to support a round bottom wok, but the size of the side-burner is too small to make using anything bigger than a 14 inch wok impossible. I like to fry whole fish and for that you need at least a 16 inch wok.
As much as size matters when it comes to wok cooking this isn’t as big a problem as the BTU of the burner. The side-burner is rated to 10,000 BTUs and you need at least 12,000 to really properly use your wok. Just a small little problem, nothing that should keep anyone from buying the grill. Besides it just means I still “need” a special burner for my wok. Or you can upgrade to the 500SS model which has a 18,000 BTU side-burner. That would be wok heaven.
The burner itself is made from single die-cast piece with a brass cap. Other, cheaper burners, are made from formed metal and then welded or screwed together. This burner is made to last and should give you as many years of use as the grill.
The construction the housing that holds everything together is as sturdy as the rest of the grill. Made from 304 commercial grade stainless steel, like everything else on the grill, its sturdy and durable.
I’m very pleased with the over-all performance of the side-burner on my Saber Cast 500 grill. Next time I’m actually going to tell you about grilling on my Saber grill.