Here's our Samuel Groves Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Non-Stick Frying Pan review in a sentence: the most alluring, high-end kitchen indulgence since Nigella Lawson's last series.
Call off the search! I've found the best non-stick frying pan you can buy. Samuel Groves has been making quality cookware since 1817, but it's not what I would call a household name – or at any rate, not in my household.
That's all changed since I started using Samuel Groves' non-stick pans. Its saucepan sets are also among the very best, but that's one for another day.
They would probably dislike the comparison but with their military-grade build quality, stylish looks and extremely non-competitive pricing, Samuel Groves outdoes Le Creuset at its own premium cookware game. It's a great British success story; all they need to do now is work on their marketing, so more people have heard of them.
What do you get for your not inconsiderable outlay? Perhaps the best pan you'll ever buy, and all of them proudly made in Birmingham (in the English midlands, not Massachusetts)…
Samuel Groves Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Non-Stick Frying Pan: price and availability
These pans come in various sizes from a dinky 20cm omelette pan to a 28cm monster. Samuel Groves seems to be exclusive to the UK at this point and here, you're looking at up to £140 for the 28cm model. That actually compares quite favourably to Le Creuset, whose 28cm three-ply non-stick pan usually costs around £160-£170.
The full range of pans is available direct from Samuel Groves (opens in new tab), although stock levels fluctuate a lot. I should also warn you that, like the pans, the Samuel Groves website has a very 'classic' look and feel to it – by which I mean it seems like it was coded in about 2009. It's functional though.
There's also a limited but handy Samuel Groves selection at John Lewis & Partners (opens in new tab) and you can also get them online at Selfridges (opens in new tab). Swanky.
Samuel Groves Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Non-Stick Frying Pan: build quality, design and warranty
Most of what you need to know about the construction of this pan is detailed in its name. The triple-ply metal structure is stainless steel, then aluminium, then stainless steel again, then 3 layers of a British-made Professional non-stick coating that Samuel Groves describes as 'noble and smooth'. Which seems as good a description as any.
The result is a pan that is reassuringly hefty, although excellent balance and handle design makes it surprisingly easy to manipulate. It's also a frying pan that heats up quickly and evenly and, of course, it's non-stick.
Samuel Groves Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Non-Stick Frying Pans are suitable for gas, ceramic, electric and induction hobs – ie: all of the hobs. They're also oven-safe up to 250ºC, which is very good indeed. Would I really whack them in an oven at that high a temperature? Probably not, but then I'm a wuss.
More importantly, they are an absolute pleasure to use and to own as kitchen objets.
Now, you might very well say, 'That's easy for you to say, Duncan, you didn't have to pay for yours,' and I entirely agree. But having used two Samuel Groves pans for 6 months, I would happily pay for them, if – like you – I was unfortunate enough to have to do so.
The handles are riveted on in a way that suggests they will never fall off, and there is so much metal in the construction of these pans, you could probably sell them as scrap and recoup most of your expenditure. The non-stick – more on this in the next section – is not the most slippery I have ever used, but it works great and feels extremely robust. There seems to be some kind of mineral element in its make-up.
One of the most impressive things about Samuel Groves is that they offer a cast iron guarantee, on their stainless steel pans. Register for Pans For Life, as they call it, and they promise to fix rivets, re-coat the non-stick and even industrially polish the pan, 'back to how it was the day it came off our UK production line.'
Now, I have no idea how easy it is to re-apply non-stick effectively, and they won't do this if you gouge through it with a toasting fork or attack it with a flame thrower – you must, of course, 'follow our care and use recommendations.' Even so, this is still a hugely impressive bit of warrantying.
The pans are also extremely easy to clean. I've resisted the urge to put them in the dishwasher much, although they are dishwasher safe, but they come up very pleasingly with a wipe of the inside and a brief scrub of the steel with a sponge.
Oh, and one final thing, the pans come in a biodegradable hessian bag. Yes! As Samuel Groves perhaps slightly optimistically puts it, 'It can also be used to store fruit and vegetables such as potatoes and apples or even trainers.' Okay. What's not to like about a hessian bag?
Samuel Groves Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Non-Stick Frying Pan: What's the non-stick like?
These splendid pans use a triple coating of British-forged Professional non-stick. This is PFOA-free and feels more abrasion-resistant than most non-stick surfaces I've encountered. Please don't use it with metal utensils, though.
The performance of the non-stick is well above average, as you'd expect. It's not the best I've ever used with tricky things like frying eggs and potatoes but it's up there. What is really good about it is performance doesn't seem to degrade with use. I've had a lot of cheaper non-stick pans that were almost miraculous when first purchased but which began to lose their non-sticky properties in a big way after six months or so.
One thing to be said for premium pans like Samuel Groves' is they really do encourage you to take care of them, as they are an investment. Although ironically, they could probably stand up to a greater amount of battering than cheaper rivals.
I guess the big thing everyone wants to know here is, 'Is the non-stick better than on a Le Creuset?' And I would say it is. Is it better than on a Tefal Unlimited On non-stick pan? Arguably not, but you're never going to impress your neighbours and Insta followers with a Tefal, are you?
Samuel Groves Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Non-Stick Frying Pan: Performance
Well, it's just a joy to use, really. The 20-inch model is pretty much the perfect omelette pan, and the 28-inch big daddy is a superb mix of reassuring heft and relatively easy manoeuvrability. That's in part due to the elegant, gently curving handle and partly just a great choice of weight on Samuel Groves' part.
Heat conduction is as good as anything I've tried. It'll take a few minutes to get sizzling on a moderate gas burner and on induction it's ready to rock in well under a minute – although do use that turbo induction setting judiciously, please. I generally run it on 'P' for 20-30 seconds, then down to 7 or 8.
I have used metal utensils on this, and it survived, but that was only for the purposes of testing and I would otherwise only ever use silicone or wood.
I actually slammed the larger pan around quite a bit, and piled it under some other pans for storage – good lord, I hate myself for having done that, but a pan reviewer's life is not an easy one. After 6 months, the non-stick shows minimal signs of wear and no discernible drop-off in performance.
Samuel Groves Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Non-Stick Frying Pan: Verdict
Now, there are plenty of superb non-stick pans on the market that cost less than this – see Pete Dreyer's Venice Greenpan review for instance. However if you're looking to treat yourself or a loved one, these Samuel Groves' non-stick pans really are a treat. I've used Le Creuset and AllClad pans a lot in the past and Samuel Groves tri-ply non-stick frying pans are better than both, for my money, and cost less, for your money.
The possible clincher here is the Pan For Life guarantee. As long as you can bring yourself to cook at a reasonable temperature – bring out the cast iron pans if you want to do your hyper-macho searing – hand wash and use wooden utensils, these pans will literally last a lifetime. How many things can you say that about?