The last time President Obama was at 10 Downing Street, he and Prime Minister David Cameron flipped burgers for some British and U.S. service members. This week it was Obama’s turn as host and to celebrate their “brave and foolish” barbecuing efforts, he presented Cameron with a Braten 1000 Series Grill made by Engelbrecht Grills and Cookers in Paxton, Illinois. The grill, which was donated, normally starts at $1,895 but with such extras as a Presidential seal, would have been priced higher. You can get one of Consumer Reports’ recommended grills for considerably less and eat like a king, if not a head of state.
If you’re living large on a small budget, the Master Forge 3218LTN, sold at Lowe's for $600, and the Huntington Patriot 658184, $700, were two large grills that we named CR Best Buys. At the upper end of the price range, is the couch-size Weber Summit E-670. For $2,500 you get very good cooking performance, six burners and features such as a side burner, a rotisserie burner and stainless steel grates.
But most grillers prefer a mid-sized model and we recommend 15 of them, including four CR Best Buys. For $200, the Char-Broil Classic 463211512 sold at Home Depot had excellent low-temperature performance and was very good at high-temperature evenness and indirect cooking. The Vermont Castings Signature Series VCS300SSP, $1,000, was our top-rated mid-sized grill, slightly edging out a Char-Broil and a Weber.
This isn’t the first time that Obama has done some male-bonding over a hot grill. Celebrity chef Bobby Flay taught the president how to grill a steak at an event on the South Lawn on Father’s Day in 2009. The secret? Don’t be a flip-flopper. Turning the steak once is enough.
—Mary H.J. Farrell