Napoleon Phantom Rogue SE 425 review - our editor grills the high-end gas barbecue
Livingetc's editor tests the gas grill barbecue from the brand that's serious about quality grills. But does it cook good burgers....and what about the veggie skewers?
For serious grillers, this has some impressive add-ons that make great steak. But it could look a little slicker
Heats up quickly and accurately
Cooks succulent spatchcock chicken
The infrared panel is good for specialty cuts like a Tomahawk steak
Comes with an impressive 15 year guarantee
15 year guarantee
Light and on wheels, so relatively easy to move around
Easy to clean the grills
Really tricky to put together to with unclear instructions
Looks a little like something an air steward might wheel up and down the aisle
One of the most expensive gas grills
I was casually browsing the design agency YSG Studio's website recently, looking at its latest projects. The Australian studio is the master of indoor/outdoor living, of creating spaces you want to relax in, entertain, move from the kitchen to the terrace and back again, seamlessly. It was all just so...appealing.
It highlighted to me why the best gas grills are getting to be more and more of a trend, and a central part of the modern home. Who wouldn't want to grill a burger as the sun sets around them, or keep some fruit skewers sizzling while the backyard projector shows a movie?
Which is why there are so many brands getting in on the action. Weber may be the most well known and Everdure the most aesthetic, but Napoleon is coming for both and - at well over $1000 - means business. But how does it justify the price tag, and could it possibly be worth it?
I tested the Napoleon Phantom Rogue SE 425 based on how easy it was to put together, to use, to cook good food, to store and - of course - whether it could fit into a stylish outdoor kitchen. I cooked sausages, burgers, chicken and veggie skewers, and the results....well, let's see.
Napoleon Phantom Rogue SE 425: Key specs
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- Cooking capacity: 710 inches squared
- Number of burners: 5
- With a hood? Yes
- Power: Gas canister (not included)
- Ready to use in: 8 minutes
- Color: Matte black
- Height: 48.5 inches
Napoleon Phantom Rogue SE 425: Set-up
I am no flatpack expert, and the illustrations in an IKEA booklet bamboozle me. The instructions here were just as diagrammatic but even more confusing - wonky arrows suggesting different parts that were meant to slot into each other in unfathomable ways. I had to call on a friend who is better at these things and even he struggled. There was plenty of 'how can this go there?' and 'wait, why does that do that?' before we finally go the Napoleon Phantom Rogue up and ready, just over 2 hours after we started.
But, of course, you only have to do that bit once, and once it's assembled it becomes a distant memory.
The Phantom Rogue consists of a cupboard on the base that houses the gas canister and looks like what an air steward might offer chicken or beef from. Above that is a panel of large, well-marked dials that control the different cooking areas. Then you get the rounded hood above, housing the main grill area. To the left is the infrared cooking panel for specialist meats and on the right is a handy shelf. There are hooks everywhere to hang utensils, and it's on wheels to easily move it around once you've assembled.
It seemed light, simple, and like it ought to be able to do everything you'd want.
Napoleon Phantom Rogue SE 425: Performance
So the best thing about cooking on the Phantom Rogue was how quickly it took to heat up - from zero to 480F in a record eight minutes. This meant that you can go from 'I think I might cook burgers tonight' to actually eating them in about half an hour.
Then the infrared heat panel gives off the same warmth as a patio heater and gives thick steaks the amount of power they need to cook all the way through quickly, so the middle stays rare.
Above the grill, handy features include a shelf with cut-ins that have teeth on them so as to hold chicken legs. And the dials were super-easy to navigate - it was clear which one controlled which part of the grill.
Then the spatchcock chicken cooked, lid down, in 40 minutes - tender and juicy and full of charred flavor.
Napoleon Phantom Rogue SE 425: Design
This isn't the most aesthetically dynamic of gas grills. It doesn't look ergonomic and it doesn't come in any bold colors. I'd see this fitting in better to an outdoor kitchen where you don't want the grill to be the star, blending in to a bar or countertop and being a valued part of kit, not a design hero.
Its grill is really well done - just like the meat it cooks. Flowing, wavy lines with a good gap between them allow the heat to disperse well, and make it really easy to clean.
Overall, Napoleon's Phantom Rogue could be improved by looking a little slicker, but as its brilliant functioning capabilities far outweigh its slight lack of beauty.
Napoleon Phantom Rogue SE 425: the verdict
It's easy to wheel around. It's easy to clean. It cooks incredibly well and incredibly fast (many grills take up to 20 minutes to come to full heat, instead of this super-speedy eight.)
The matte black finish isn't the slickest or chicest and the boxy cabinet that houses the gas canister isn't the most stylish, but the functionality of the Phantom Rogue definitely gives Napoleon the credentials to be a brand that topples Weber from the top spot of being the most well-known.
This grill certainly isn't the cheapest model on the market but its impressively large guarantee of 15 years makes this an upscale and promising investment buy.
About this review, and the reviewer
Pip is the editor of Livingetc, and has been writing about design and food in national publications for almost 20 years. He has interviewed most major designer and chef working today, and has written a cookbook, The Herb and Flower Cookbook, published in 2014, and a design book, A New Leaf, published in 2021. The kitchen is his most important space, a room to cook and entertain and chat and live, and has to look good and be functional, too.
The Napoleon Phantom Rogue was tested at his house, put through its paces and marked against a series of other gas grills.
The editor of Livingetc, Pip Rich (formerly Pip McCormac) is a lifestyle journalist of almost 20 years experience working for some of the UK's biggest titles. As well as holding staff positions at Sunday Times Style, Red and Grazia he has written for the Guardian, The Telegraph, The Times and ES Magazine. The host of Livingetc's podcast Home Truths, Pip has also published three books - his most recent, A New Leaf, was released in December 2021 and is about the homes of architects who have filled their spaces with houseplants. He has recently moved out of London - and a home that ELLE Decoration called one of the ten best small spaces in the world - to start a new renovation project in Somerset.
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