A man mightn't be the king of his castle anymore, but every summer he can at least claim principality on his patio when he torches up a really serious stainless steel grill. We test-drove four propane-burning behemoths, all with formidable construction, but in different sizes, with varying accessories.
Weber's Genesis E-320 was the most compact of the grills we tested, still delivering big in terms of sturdy feel. Massive bolts secure the trim around the colored hood (choice of blue, green and black). The front doors shut with a pleasing snap and the gas tank is addressable from the front. The three cooking elements are aligned crosswise, and the two iron grates have wide bars on one side or narrow on the other. The large built-in thermometer is easy to read, registering up to 750 degrees. The knock is that locating control knobs to the side infringes on shelf space. www.weber.com
The Viking VGIQ410-3RT proved the most versatile cooker, allowing for traditional grilling, smoking, rotisserie cooking and "TruSear" over a superheating infrared element. The smoke box can be removed to provide more grill surface. The warming tray adjusts to three heights. Heating elements are aligned back to front and narrow steel grills make for easy cleaning. Underneath are two drawers and a cabinet for a gas tank that conveniently slides out on a rolling platform. Large rubber wheels roll this big boy. The anomaly is that Viking gave this grand grill a thermometer that reads only as accurately as warm, smoke and grill. www.vikingrange.com
The red knobs on the Wolf 48 Grill Cart announce to the world what you're cooking on, and its sheer weight makes it feel as if it could take a missile hit. With its two huge side burners, each large enough to boil lobsters in separate pots, it's like a kitchen on very sturdy wheels. The rotisserie has a steel cover that protects it from splatter from the regular grills and it comes with a canvas that zips to a snug fit. The grill didn't light as easily as the others, however, and lacks a warming rack and thermometer. www.subzero.com
The Ducane Meridian Series 32" Five Burner is cherried out with features that seem to be designed with the user's ease in mind. Turn on the gas and the electric igniter lights the grill automatically. The side counters are covered in granite and are really considerate of a chef's needs. The large warming rack is well made. The storage space underneath is quite ample and includes a separate sliding gas tank shelf. The built-in thermometer has detailed temperature readings. The Ducane, however, is comparatively flimsy and the side burner is less than inspiring. www.ducane.com