Spark Charcoal and Electric Grill Review
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After a lifetime of having a Midwest dad and about three minutes into my first day at Esquire, it was made abundantly clear to me that grilling is an important part of being a man. Not all men grill. But men who do grill? Man, do they grill. Charcoal or propane, Weber or Big Green Egg, respect is paid to the fire, to the meat and vegetables atop it. To an outsider—particularly a twenty-something woman—the grilling ranks seemed closed to anyone not willing to complete a rigorous apprenticeship and enter into a lifetime of wearing stupid dad-joke aprons. (A favorite apron slogan of mine? “I like smokin’ hot grills.” I give you: men!) Blame my reluctance on the types of commercials that run during halftime.
I wasn’t about to spend a summer toiling away over a finicky, burning metal box. I love grilled chicken and onions and corn, but not that much. I wanted the easy way out—or rather, the easy way into the club. I wanted a grill for people who are intimidated by grills. That grill is the Spark Grill.
You don’t need grill expertise to be an expert Spark griller.
The Spark grill does not require a “license to grill,” and yes, that’s another prime dad-joke grilling apron slogan. All you need is the Spark app on your phone. (You bet this is another smart, app-connected device. That’s just the world we live in.) The app will give you step-by-step video instructions on building the grill out the box, as well as correctly seasoning the cast iron grill plate. And the app will teach you how to fire the Spark Grill up, which is necessary, since this thing’s design is unique. For one, it’s electric; you’ll need an extension cord. For another, instead of buying propane or charcoal, you buy fuel bricks (called Briqs) straight from the Spark app that slide into the bottom of the grill. But despite the smartness and the elevated design, I went from beginner to expert level griller in about, oh, 10 minutes? Not too shabby.
Its controls are quick and intuitive.
With one turn of the control knob to the right, you light the grill—no long-stemmed lighter or lighter fluid required. With another flick of the knob, you set your ideal temperature. While the grill heats, the knob emits a pleasant orange light. When it cools, that light turns blue. The app’ll reflect all this information, too. After you’ve fed the crowd (or yourself), you let the grill cool, then toss the ash that’s leftover from the Briq out. You’ll slide a new Briq into the drawer next time you feel like grilling (actual charcoal will also work in a pinch). What else can I tell you? The handle opens it, the cutting board gives you a work station, the wheels roll…it’s really that straight-forward.
It cooks and looks so damn nice.
About these Briqs. Made from charcoal, they imbibe your food with that smokiness that’s impossible to achieve without a charcoal grill. Besides that, they’re neat and tidy. This whole grill is. I mean, look at the thing. Put it in the Museum of Modern Art. Setting one up in your backyard (or city patio, in my case) won’t overpower the space with I LIVE TO GRILL vibes. Like a good bar cart, it speaks to taste and style—but it isn’t the center of attention. What’s on it is. Now, the Spark isn’t a tank of a grill. Nor will it serve up 23 burgers to nine hungry guys in under 17 minutes. But that’s never going to be what a griller like me is after.
Photography by Timothy Mulcare. Prop styling Miako Katoh.
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