Last year the Cuisinart 360 Grill Cooktop was introduced. Although economical in many ways, this unit had a good combination of heat output and solid cooking surface. After all, when it comes to flat grills, it's the cooktop that makes the difference. That unit had a 22-inch diameter hob with approximately 380 square inches of griddle. This XL version has a surface area of 30 inches in diameter with over 700 square inches of iron. That is a lot of space.
There are three main burners for three cooking zones. While the cooking surface is round, the heat zones divide the cooking area on both sides and in the middle. It is a bit contradictory, but I think anyone can understand it. The cooking surface itself is heavy steel. This is where the real power comes from. This heavy surface absorbs and retains heat. Put cold food on top and the cooking surface hardly notices. This is what you want from a good flat iron.
You have to season and take care of the surface and, without a doubt, I recommend that you cover this grill if you leave it outside. Yes, it does have a lid, but that lid has a vent at the top and lets water through. Humidity is the enemy of a kitchen like this. The advantage of this type of cooking surface is that the longer you use it, the better it will be. In no time, it will be non-stick and ready to handle most foods.
Now For the Downside
While you can get the Cuisinart 360 XL Griddle Cooking Center for around $ 400, you must understand that you are getting what you pay for. The entire unit weighs around 120 pounds and a big chunk of that weight is just the stove. That means the car, the grease pan that runs around the stove, the burners, and everything in between is pretty lightweight. I wouldn't say this is a high quality flat grill, but for the price and size it's not too shabby either.
Flat grills are great fun to cook with and very versatile. This unit is open and multiple people can cook in it at the same time. The round design makes it a very useful cooking area, but it does this to make sure things don't get too close to the edge. This unit is available from various retailers and I will do my best to keep this page updated at the best price.