This is a good grill with a good side burner. It made good burgers, sausages, and chicken, but there are better grills out there for the price.
Great side burner
Great rear burner
Good taste test results
Easy to clean
Terrible to assemble
Some ignition issues
Looks austere in most yards
You can trust Homes & Gardens.
Napoleon Phantom Rogue
Napoleon Phantom Rogue specifications
|48.50" x 55" x 25"
|Three, plus side burner and warming rack burner
Unboxing the Napoleon Phantom Rogue
Assembly is the single worst part of this grill. I like to think our team are fairly clever, handy people, but it took three of us three hours to build this. It's the worst experience assembling a grill I've had in years of testing.
It arrives in a heavy box, which two of us managed but will be difficult if you're on your own. After opening it up and laying all the parts out, we found that the instructions are terrible; long, unclear, and complicated. They’re diagrams with no text printed on an A3 sheet, which is unwieldy when it gets windy, and easy to tear even when you weigh it down. It’s hard to tell when the instructions are referring to parts inside or outside the grill, and some of the instructions are in a nonsensical order that means you have to undo the step you finished previously to get it work. We had to skip forward steps to make sense of it all, and there were dozens of steps
where the instruction manual lists 30 tasks, there's really more like 60 given that there’s multiple stages for each item you have to build.
Even the included tools like the ratchet handle are more trouble than they’re worth - the handle has a big bulge that makes it tricky to get into screw in tight spaces. The grill itself is far too heavy for one person to lift. All in all, building this was unnecessarily effortful.
I want to stress here that for most people, building a grill is a couple of boring hours of your life that you quickly forget. However, if you have mobility issues, this will be incredibly frustrating. Moreover, it's disappointing when you consider the price. You'd expect a little finagling when building a cheap grill that costs under $500, not for one that usually goes for around $1200.
Once you've got it all together, you've got a matte black stainless steel grill with three main burners, a side burner, and a warming rack burner, sitting on four lockable but small wheels, and with a door that - despite our best efforts - wouldn't quite stay on.
Testing grilled vegetable skewers
Frist up was grilled vegetable skewers and halloumi. We partly test these for our vegetarian readers but also because vegetables are a great proxy for how a grill can cook with meat. It sounds counterintuitive, but vegetables dry out faster and their paler skin makes it easy to assess charring. Halloumi is yet to take off in the States but this grilled sheep's cheese not only tastes incredible (if you've not had it, I beg, trust me) but is watery and high-protein, so easily sticks to a grill, so we can see if a grill is truly non-stick.
Before grilling, I measured everything up and found that you could fit around 10 vegetable kebabs on this grill. However, here I found slight lip on grill at the near edge. It pokes up above the line of the grill and conducts heat - if you aren't careful, you could catch a wrist bone on it.
Ignition was easy, and it hit 250°C (~ 480°F) in about five minutes, which is pretty good going.
The vegetables were good, but halloumi stuck a little. The courgette was slightly underdone. I found that the unique wavy pattern of the grill is a bit of a gimmick and made it little annoying to turn over the skewers, because it was harder to get in underneath the food.
All-in-all, the results were good, but not $1200 good. I was fairly happy on the taste test. The peppers were the highlight, with well-charred skin and soft flesh. But when you consider that the food was simply not as good as in the Weber Spirit II E-310, which retails for half the price, it's hard to be effusive.
Testing burgers and sausages
I moved onto some classic fare, burger and sausages. I hardly need to explain why we test these - there will be millions of these cooked in backyards up and down the country over the summer. If your grill can't cook burgers and sausages, there's no point in having one.
I was excited when setting out with this test because burgers offered the perfect opportunity to test the side burner. Side burners are usually best suited to red meat like burgers and steaks, because they sear on such a high heat.
It took 5 minutes to reach temperature, which is pretty great efficiency. However, here I found my first issue with the side burner. I had to close the lid to get the side burner to light. It wasn't particularly windy, so this was disappointing.
I cooked a burger and 8 sausages. You could easily double this and caramelise onions on the side burner with corn on the cob going on the warming rack, which has its own burners rather than relying on indirect heat from the main grill. A small problem here, however, is that all the control dials for these burners are in a single line and labelled with faint symbols, so it's not immediately obvious which dial controls which burner. The dials also light up, but we found this was a fairly pointless feature, as they're quite faint and no one would be cooking in the kind of darkness that needs light up dials.
When cooking, I found that burgers stuck a little, though this wasn’t the case with the side burner. It gets very hot, which is a good feature for efficiency but means you have to keep your eye on cooking even when you turn down the heat. The worst facet of of this heat output is that the side burner burnt my burger. It's ferocious even when you turn down the heat. I also found that it’s not the most even grill, as the central burner becomes a lot hotter than the burners on the side.
Overall, the burgers were fairly good. But just like with the vegetable skewers, they weren't $1200 good. Everyone on test said they tasted nice, but as these prices, 'nice' doesn't quite cut it.
Testing a grilled chicken
I then tested a spatchcock chicken on the grill. We do this to assess how well the grill can cook on medium, indirect heat, and if it can handle thicker cuts of meat without drying them out. All I had to do was heat the grill to to 390°F, using only the side burners to make indirect heat in the centre of the grill to gently cook the chicken.
This was easily the best of the three tests of this grill. It maintained a steady heat throughout cooking, and there were no sudden drops or rises in temperature. The chicken was easy to flip, with no sticking, and it was delicious. The second-best on the test day, it had crisp skin and was very juicy, maintaining the flavour of the BBQ marinade.
Cleaning the Napoleon Phantom Rogue
You have to wash everything on this grill by hand, which is a little inconvenient but is standard for grills.
The stainless steel grill on this retained a lot of grease, much more than other the other grills we tested, but the good news was that this wiped away incredibly easily.
There was some discoloration in the steel from the heat, but that's inevitable at these temperatures.
How does it rate online?
Lots of reviews give this grill five stars. They love the quick heating, the blistering temperatures, and the solid construction of this grill. Plenty of other users have cooked great meals with one of these, with one mentioning a perfectly-cooked 13lb spatchcock turkey.
However, even positive five-star reviews comment on the poor instructions, with one reviewer saying that it took them four hours to build. Another described the instructions as 'hieroglyphic'. It's good see that it wasn't just our testing team - this grill is a pain to build. Just as I did, other reviewers had minor issues with the ignition of the side burner, and with the magnets in the door. It's a good grill, but not without issues.
How does it compare to similar models and predecessors?
This is a good grill, but I think there's better out there for the money. At the moment our favorite is the Weber Spirit II E-310 and it's more than half the price and simply better. There's none of the extra features like a side burner but it was easier to move around the yard and easier to ignite and assemble. What's more, it simply tasted better. On every taste test, this grill was pipped by the Weber. It's pretty straightfoward.
On another level, I also think that the design of this grill won't work for every space. I'd be a little hesitant about buying it if you have a traditional, coastal, or cottage-inspired yard. Matte black looks like it would be more at home in the Batcave than on a relaxing deck at sunset. When you compare it to a design-forward grill like the Everdure Force, it just can't match it.
Should you buy the Napoleon Phantom Rogue?
If you want a big, bad grill with a pretty large capacity, a side burner, and a warming rack, this is a good investment. If not, it's much too expensive for its performance and it will be very difficult for some people to put together.
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As Head of eCommerce, Alex makes sure our readers find the right information to help them make the best purchase. After graduating from Cambridge University, Alex got his start in reviewing at the iconic Good Housekeeping Institute, testing a wide range of household products and appliances. He then moved to BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, assessing gardening tools, machinery, and wildlife products. Helping people find true quality and genuine value is a real passion.
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