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Lotus Grill Mini review - a BBQing pocket rocket

Maggie Holland
15 Jun 2016
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
100
inc VAT (as of 15th of June)

This table top barbecue impressed, punching way above its weight and size

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Specifications

Fuel type: Charcoal, Cooking area: 240mm circular diameter, Dimensions (HxWxD): 225x240mm, Accessories: none, Warranty: two years 
Buy the Lotus Grill Mini now from www.cuckooland.com

The Lotus Grill Mini is billed as 'an ideal companion for truckers, campers, for wandering and picnics'. And it lives up to its claims as a little gem of a BBQ that’s size is misleading as to what it can achieve.

Assembly and build quality

I've had previous bad experiences with so-called tabletop barbecues, with either shoddy workmanship or a lack of functionality being two key issues. So I was, admittedly, sceptical of what was in store when the Lotus Grill Mini arrived.

However, I was mightily impressed when it arrived. My review model was a pre-loved item so there weren’t any instructions, nor packaging beyond the box, but none of that was really necessary as the Grill Mini comes ready to use.

There’s an outer base, the underneath of which houses AA batteries. This base looks a bit like a mini coliseum but made out of stainless steel. Then there are the innards - what looks like a metal mixing bowl, a small charcoal cup, charcoal cup lid and then the grill grate itself. So even if you did have to assemble it yourself, it would take mere minutes and require no instructions to do so.

Looks and style

The Lotus brand is renowned for its looks. The range is comprised of a standard grill and XL grill available in a range of vibrant colours and stainless steel, plus the one we have here on review – the Lotus Grill Mini – which comes as standard built from a mixture of steel and shock-resistant plastics.

And, despite being the ‘budget’ version, the Grill Mini does not disappoint. It’s a really nice item to look at, and comes in a handy travel case that aids storage and makes it portable. My only real gripe with the travel case was how snuggly the Grill Mini fitted inside. The extremely tight fit made it hard to get out and we had to be careful not to cut ourselves due to the metal build of the barbecue.

In use and features

The lack of instructions did prove a tad puzzling in terms of what went where, but a quick internet search brought up several YouTube videos, which did the job just fine. You simply have to squirt a little bit of the provided ethanol gel underneath the charcoal cup, turn on the fan nob (which glows blue when on), then light it and place the charcoal cup (with charcoal inside) on top.

The lid then goes on top and then the grill. The fan does make a whirring noise, which could prove annoying if you were sitting in the middle of nowhere all alone, however, if this barbecue is used for the social events, albeit very small ones, we think the noise won’t prove too bothersome.

The Grill Mini produced a mighty amount of smoke at first, but according to the YouTube clips, this is quite normal. The only thing we didn’t really like was the ethanol smell that accompanied the burning – if this barbecue was any bigger, your neighbours would probably be annoyed if you used it while they were outside sunbathing.

The small but powerful barbecue got hot very quickly - a matter of only a few minutes. And soon enough you could see flames rising above the grill. I adjusted the fan to combat this and the flames soon behaved themselves again and I was left with hot coals. In fact, this fan-assisted element became a real plus point. It effectively controls the temperature so you can adjust the grill heat (within reason) to your exacting needs.

This was perfect for cooking different types of meat (for example, beef burgers and pork sausages). The grill bars are around the same thickness as those on larger rivals, but were super hot from being so close to the compact charcoal grate. This resulted in those lovely seared lines that make food look and taste so much better.

In summary, I found the Lotus Grill Mini a dream to use. My only bug-bear being the fact we could only cook for a maximum of one very hungry adult or two moderately hungry adults at the same time. Provided those using this barbecue are aware of those limitations and not expecting to cook up a lunch for a family of four in one go, there shouldn’t be any issue.

One final thing I would say about using the Lotus Grill Mini is regarding safety. You’d think being all metal, the exterior of the barbecue would be too hot to touch in use. However, that’s not the case. Although I found it possible, with careful use of tongs, to disassemble the Grill Mini almost straight after cooking, I’d still recommend waiting until completely cold – especially before packing it away with its bottle of ethanol.

Cleaning and storage

Given the burger I cooked instantly clung to the grill, I was very worried about how much elbow grease would be required to clean up the Lotus Grill Mini. However, I was pleasantly surprised when the time came to clean. The modular nature of the product means it’s really easy to take apart and easy to get to all the main components.

I soaked the mixing bowl and charcoal cup in the sink and put the grill plate in the dishwasher. It was then a simple case of giving the rest of the kit a wipe over with a damp cloth/sponge with washing up liquid. The base and fan unit aside, it would be possible to just throw the whole lot in the dishwasher.

Once I’d dried the items and put them together again, much like a Russian doll, I simply stored the Grill Mini neatly away in its travel case ready for next time. It really was incredibly simple and nice not to have to worry about leaving the barbecue out in the elements as its compact and bijou nature means it will easily fit on most shelves or cupboards, or could even be left in the car.

Conclusion

While this isn’t a barbecue I would recommend for general use, it certainly stands out for a compact grill. Because the Grill Mini so deftly fills its niche in the market, I'm happy to give the thumbs up to those who will appreciate its features for occasional and on-the-move use.

Needless to say, you won’t be smoking any whole salmon or roasting a chicken on the Grill Mini – but it really is a small barbecue with big appeal and the fact it’s incredibly easy to use and cook on, not to mention safe, means the Lotus Grill Mini deserves its ongoing popularity. For other options see our Best BBQ 2016 roundup. 

Buy the Lotus Grill Mini now from www.cuckooland.com

Physical
Fuel typeCharcoal
Cooking area240mm circular diameter
Dimensions (HxWxD)225x240mm
Weight2.1
Features
Controllable ventsYes
Cooking height adjustmentNo
ThermometreNo
AccessoriesNone
Buying information
WarrantyTwo year RTB
Detailswww.lotusgrilluk.com

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