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bphansen

Wolf DF vs. Thermador Pro Grand DF vs. Miele DF vs. BlueStar ranges

BP Hansen
6 years ago

I'm a long-time lurker but am finally ramping up my kitchen update. I'm been test-driving a lot of ranges lately and wanted to share my initial thoughts. I'd be thrilled to get additional feedback and comments.

First, a little background...I'm replacing a 30" 4-burner gas cooktop and double electric ovens, but due to my small kitchen (and the fact that we're keeping our current cabinets and refinishing them) and the fact that I want 2 ovens, I'm looking at 36" ranges plus a separate 24" combi steam oven. That seems to be the combination that will maximize my overall cooking space. Initially I wanted the 48" range but realized we just couldn't fit it into our layout (would have 2" clearance on either side).

I don't have a huge passion around open vs. sealed burners (which I know is an inflammatory topic on these forums), so you may notice that some of the ranges I tried were a bit like comparing apples and oranges (BlueStar vs. the rest). I don't do a lot of wok/high heat cooking, but I'd like some higher BTU burners for when I want to do that. I also do a lot of baking, so I'm really leaning towards dual-fuel for the electric oven.

Anyway, I had a chance to cook on these ranges:

Wolf dual fuel -- this range had the best griddle/grill of anything I've tried yet. The grill gets super hot, and it appears to be really easy to clean (turn the thing up high, sear off the crud and vacuum up the ashes about a month). I'm more interested in the griddle (since we can easily access our grill outside), and I love the fact that the Wolf has temperature control but it's gas-powered (unlike the Thermador, which is electric and seemed a bit underpowered). I also like the steel surface of the Wolf (Thermador has some kind of quasi-nonstick griddle surface). I also really like the "true simmer" that Wolf offers on its burners, although I wish it had at least one burner with higher power (the Wolf burners top out at 16K BTUs).

The Wolf oven bakes beautifully -- cookies on different racks with convection were nicely browned all around (bottom and top) -- heat seemed very even. I was also happily surprised with the Wolf broiler on the DF, which is electric but has a ton of power (note that I also tried the Wolf all gas, which cooks more traditionally -- cookies brown on the bottom, lighter on top -- and has a killer broiler). Unfortunately, since I was only able to spend an hour on the Wolf, I didn't get a chance to check out its roasting capabilties for meat.

Thermador Grand Pro dual fuel -- (Full disclosure - I had a Thermador AG range about 8 years ago and hated it, but the sales guy at the appliance store really encouraged me to look at it again b/c "it's gotten a lot better" than when I owned one). The star burners were nice, and they top out at 22K BTUs, which is really nice for higher-heat cooking (in fact, I burned my broccoli on this range, since I'm not used to working with high BTU burners). The flame pattern seemed well spread out -- and in fact, the 22K one was almost licking the sides of my rather large skillet -- and effective at distributing heat (I'll admit I couldn't detect a big difference between the star burners and the Wolf round burners). Thermador has made improvements with the XLO burners, which still click on and off but didn't seem quite as annoying as they were on my old Thermador. I still like the Wolf true simmer better than the on again/off again of the XLO burners. Thermador has raised burners, which looked like they might be a bit easier to clean than Wolf's.

I tested a 48" Grand Pro with steam, but I only tried the regular oven b/c I'm looking at separate combi-steam ovens. I loved the fact that Thermador has 3 easy-glide racks in the oven (Wolf only gives you 1 and you have to pay extra for others, which seems like nickle and diming in a $10K range) -- they're really smooth and easy to use. I was very impressed with the baking capabilities of the Thermador -- again, cookies were evenly browned all over with the "convection bake" setting and probably even slightly more even than what I saw in the Wolf oven. I switched to the "convection roast" setting to try roasting a chicken with potatoes and baking the Jim Leahy "no knead" bread. The bread came out great -- golden and delicious, but the chicken was still pretty pale after 1 hr. at 450 degrees (can't even come close to the beautiful roasting I saw in the BlueStar -- Thermador was downright flabby by comparison). Loved the baking test but was pretty lukewarm on the roasting test.

BlueStar Platinum -- This was my first love, and the cooktop burners continue to astound with their ridiculous power. I don't think it would be the stove for people who are simmering sauces (Wolf is still #1 in my book for that), but I liked the industrial look and the fact that you can get up to 25K BTUs on the Platinum. It also seemed like the cleaning would be less of a pain than either Wolf or Thermador. I didn't try the grill/griddle on this, but the sales person said it wasn't great -- cold spots (b/c it just lays over 2 burners like a Lodge cast iron pan) and the grill apparently makes a huge mess (it looked like it just dripped right onto the burners and stovetop).

I'll admit that turning on this oven scared me -- it looks like an A380 taking off -- but it actually worked quite well once I got over the giant ring of blue fire in the back. BS was ok but not great when it came to baking -- cookies on different racks were unevenly browned (but not awful), and I kind of expected this with the all gas oven. Where this thing really excelled, though, was at roasting. I also did a whole chicken on potatoes with the Leahy no-knead bread, and the chicken was glorious -- incredibly crispy skin, moist meat and yummy (even though I burned a bit of the back b/c it was a bit too close to the giant oven burner; might need to rotate food more frequently in the BS b/c of that burner). And it was only 45 min. at 450 to look like this (as compared to the Thermador). If I were paleo, I'd have this range on my short list.

One thing that definitely stuck with me on the BS was that the oven door gets hot -- very hot. I had the oven on for at least 1-1/2 hrs, a good hour of that at 450, and from mid-way up the door, it was very hot to the touch (door handle, however, was fine). The little pull-out drip trays under the burners were even hotter (needed a pot mitt to touch/open). This may not turn everyone off, but it did make me wonder about the insulation in this particular range (and I wasn't sure I wanted that one in my house with kids either).

Miele dual fuel -- I'm testing this on May 1, so I'll have to come back with feedback later. I have examined it thoroughly in person, and it looks very promising: 19K BTUs in the highest burner, a griddle/grill that looks just about the same as the one on the Wolf, dishwasher-safe grates on top, "steam assist" in the oven (gives you a burst of steam for baking), and what looks to be the same type of true simmer as on the Wolf.

On the downside, I'm worried about purchasing a v.1 of anything; and all of those electronics right under the hot burners are concerning, since flame + electronics = bad news. I also think it's a bit unattractive (but not so unattractive that I couldn't live with it) -- and since I cook a lot, the Master Chef options are only nominally interesting to me (but might be great for someone who's a novice cook). I'm also not sold on Miele's build quality these days -- I have a Miele W/D, and I've had to have both serviced in less than 4 years. Kind of ridiculous, since you're paying the Miele premium for what's supposed to be a 20 year + appliance.

I also haven't tested combi-steam ovens yet, but I'm taking classes on both the Miele and Gaggenau in the next month (since I have no experience cooking with a steam oven). I'm only looking at those two brands b/c I believe they're the only ones that can be plumbed (at least that I'm aware of).


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