This all started because I needed a 12" fry pan with flared sides. A quick check of my America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook informed me that the All-Clad Stainless Steel is the brand to beat, and next thing I know, I'm holding the beautiful thing in my hands and about to shell out 120 clams for it! Eeep!
Long story short, I ended up with the 10 piece Tramontina set instead, for a mere $80 more. "Enthusiastically Recommended" by ATK, and backed by dozens of 5 star reviews from happy customers, I just had to try it. I figured it would compliment my favorite cast iron pieces and summarily replace the disk-bottom Belgiques wasting space in my cabinets.
My cookware arrived just a few days ago and overall I'm impressed. It's a beautiful set, a good weight, with comfortable handles. So far I've used the 4 quart sauce pan for making a pasta sauce and the 5 quart dutch oven for boiling pasta and making soup. Both performed nicely and as expected: even, distributed heating with no scorching or sticking....very similar to my porcelain-enameled dutch oven. Both pans cleaned up easily washing by hand. Quite pleased.
However, I do have just a couple complaints/concerns. Initial inspection out of the box revealed small imperfections on each piece. Every pan has at least one small, shallow scratch, either on the outside or on the cooking surface. Having never purchased stainless steel cookware before, I don't know whether or not this is par for the course. I decided however, at less than $200, I wasn't going to worry about what is probably nothing more than a cosmetic issue, especially considering how they will eventually look after years of use.
Secondly, the pans are not perfectly flat on the bottom. Tonight I noticed that the 5 quart dutch oven rocked a bit on the stove stop, so I whipped out a straight edge and checked each piece. Now, I have no idea if this is normal or considered a defect (or if it's even related to the wobble), but the bottom of each pan is arched very slightly, so the middle of the pan is slightly elevated from the edges. I then checked my old disk bottom Belgiques, and found that they are perfectly flat. As I use a gas range, I don't think I'll have an issue with the arch, but I wonder if users of glass top or induction ranges would? I've searched online and can't find anything on this topic, so if anybody out there reading this has a clue, please respond with a review and enlighten me! :)
Anyway, even with the cosmetic issues and the unexpectedly arched bottoms, I'm still very happy with my purchase, and I think I'll love cooking with this set. The craftsmanship may not be up to All-Clad standards, but it's close enough; and for the price, an unbelievable deal. I would, without hesitation, recommend Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad to anyone looking for quality, affordable cookware. Happy cooking :)
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