Best of Both Worlds
I have always been a fan of cooking BBQ over charcoal or briquettes. I enjoy the process of getting it started and prefer the taste. It can be a pain to light a charcoal BBQ, when you get home from work and just want to throw on a steak, burger or gammon steak. Gas obviously makes this much more convenient.
Being unwilling to move away from charcoal, the Outback Combi Grill Charcoal and Gas BBQ seemed to offer the best of both worlds. I can still do my ‘natural’ BBQ but also get the benefit of the ease of cooking on gas.
Great Looking BBQ
The BBQ is large in size. It took me about 1/2 day to put together and does take up a fair amount of space. Once up it is a great looking piece of equipment.
The gas side occupies the larger area with 4 burners. It comes with a normal grate and a hotplate, which I rarely use. I am thinking of buying another grate as I think that will see far more use. There is a supply of lava rocks that come with the BBQ. In addition, you get the obligatory warming rack. There is a temperature gauge in the hood so you can easily monitor temperatures.
On the charcoal side, it comes with an adjustable charcoal basket. This allows you to adjust the height of the coals from the cooking grate to help control the temperature. It also has an air vent on the side and on the top to control airflow. The charcoal side also has a temperature gauge. The one on mine broke after 6-7 months but Outback replaced it without any issues.
Charcoal not Recommended!!
Outback recommends only using briquettes on the charcoal side, so it’s not really a charcoal BBQ. I use the Weber Briquettes or Aussie Heat Beads which give a long cook time, which I normally combine with wood chips. Using briquettes makes the BBQ really easy to clean as the charcoal basket has holes in which mean you can brush the ash through onto the removable tray below and then easily empty. Again, there is a warming rack.
Each side of the gas and charcoal grills have side shelves. These are good for food prep or for that all-important beer (not that I condone drinking whilst manning a lit BBQ)!
There is also a storage compartment underneath the charcoal grill which is useful for storing charcoal/briquettes and firelighters.
The overall build quality is good. The main grill areas have a porcelain lid that still looks pretty good after 16 months of heavy usage. There are some signs of rust on the body (not much) despite me keeping it well covered, although it did not go away in the shed over winter as I like to BBQ all year round. The other area that doesn’t quite feel great is the adjustable charcoal basket. It does not go down as smoothly as I think it should so I have to be a bit persuasive at times.
Having now cooked on various Weber models I don’t think the Outback quality matches up to Weber.
In hindsight, I would not have purchased this BBQ. It has had very heavy usage and to be honest done a great job. I now have a couple of Weber GBS BBQ’s. Since discovering chimney starters I honestly believe it is as quick to cook on a charcoal BBQ as it is on a gas BBQ. The price of this BBQ is now down to £299 which I think is pretty good value. However, if given the choice I think I would still opt for a Weber GBS and purchase some additional accessories, whether that is the rotisserie or some of the GBS accessories.