Big name for a small unit. Icon. But they say good things come in small packages, so does that apply to this model from the Monolith range?
Little ceramic grills like this have become quite popular in the last few years with some of the budget supermarkets even getting in on the action.
But there seems to be quite a difference in the low-cost versions and the many features and extras available on models like the Icon. So it’s definitely worth doing some homework before you make your purchase. I’ll help you get an idea of the Monolith offering in this review.
Let’s start with some stats. The Icon weighs in at 30kg. Just let that sink in as some folks think these compact grills are the kind of grill you can pack up and take to the beach, and you absolutely can do that, as long as you drive your car to the beach and have a pretty short walk to your chosen spot. It’s not lightweight, and that’s testament to what a solid little grill this is. That’s because its thick ceramic, which provides these Kamado style grills with their amazing heat retention. Throw in a handful of charcoal and you’ll be shocked at exactly how long these grills will run for. Next stat, the grilling surface is 33cm wide; sounds small but you really would be surprised what you can get onto that circular grill especially if you are looking at a bigger joint of meat like a pork shoulder or some beef for a roast. The Icon stands in at 50cm tall; so whilst it has its own stand you are ideally going to want to put this grill on a table to stop you having to bend over. I used it on a Keter plastic outdoor table in it’s stand and that was just about perfect for me.
This grill has a few nifty features straight out of the box that will make life using the grill a little easier. As mentioned above this grill comes nested in its own stand but, that stand also has a grab handle each side built in that makes moving this thing around a little easier, taking into account the weight. The firebox is segmented in a petal style formation which allows for expansion under high heat meaning they are far more resistant to the cracking some kamado grills experience. There is also a built-in adaptor so you can use fan assist from the BBQ guru range of products. They attach in seconds and then when finished you just plug the hole back up with the bung. A guru will mean you can run the icon, knowing the fan assist will help you keep to your set temperature. I’ll be honest, I ran the icon for a few longer smokes, and it sits at temp pretty solid. You also get two solidly built wooden handled tools included with the Icon. The first is a handy tool for lifting the grates out, which is very handy if you don’t have your pair of heat resistant gloves to hand.
Then there are the extras to really to help you up your mini Kamado game. First is the deflector stone and lift kit. This is the classic set up to give you the ability to do the longer indirect cooks, as the stone deflects the heat directly under the meat, it then passes around the gap at the edges creating an oven style convection effect, great for those longer low and slow cooks. The frame just simply slides onto the rim of the Icon and the stone nestles into it.
The second extra I was given to test was the Icon Fireplate, which is essentially a 600mm wide plancha made from 6mm thick steel. The lid of the Icon is fully removeable in seconds thanks to the easy wind in clasp system, so when the lid is off and the Fireplate rests easily on top giving you a much bigger cooking surface. There is a chimney in the centre to act as an exhaust above the charcoal and means you could also top up easily if needed. In my experience the heat on the Fireplate is much hotter towards the centre and near the chimney and then cooler the further out you go. To start with I found this an annoyance, but you soon realise it makes total sense. You don’t want the whole plate to be raging hot all the time as you need cooler areas to move food too that is nearer finishing.
For example, I made smash burgers, but the caramelised onions didn’t need to be cooked any further, just kept warm. So whilst the burger patties were nearer the centre of the plate cooking away, I moved the onions to the outer edge and it worked perfectly. There is also a very neat stainless tray that slides underneath a cut out on the Fireplate. This is perfect for scraping off any fat or scraps. This is a well thought out addition to the Icon and really ups the anti with the competitors in this market segment. The final extra I have is a simple one that works with the Fireplate, and that’s a crown that fits over the central exhaust and allows you to use a wok without suffocating the fire. I did a stir fry using this attachment and some pork tenderloin that I had smoked earlier on the Icon too. Very cool to be able to do a whole cook start to finish covering so many cook styles on one small grill.
So, in summary, there are a number of great small Kamado grills on the market and you have to pick the one that’s right for you. But do your homework and see what comes in the box for the money you pay, also what accessories are available if any, as some of the super budget models just don’t have any. And then also look into the details like the warranty etc. The Monolith grills have a lifetime warranty on the ceramics and 5 years on all metal parts backed up by a UK distributor. That’s good to know.
The Icon currently has a RRP of £599 but there are some deals online to be found.
Twitter : @ArtustBBQ
Very interesting review. I find these small ceramics quite intriguing, but as you say you need to get the warranty and accessories to justify the outlay. Seems a good option for small cooks or for low and slow for smaller numbers etc. Must make a heck of a saving in fuel with it.