Waring Pro WT400 on sale at Zellers (of all places) for less than $50 Canadian.
Usually the first thing I do when I find an interesting model is to check the wattage, and I was quite surprised to see the Waring rated at a full 1800W (at 120 volts)! Normally 4 slice toasters are underpowered especially when compared to more powerful 2 slice models that can go as high as 1100W. So when you are in need of power and don't have a 220V service for your $1200 Hobart generally 2 slice is the way to go. Just the same we really liked the look, so we decided to pick one up and try it out. So far we are quite pleased.
First this toaster is a beaut, but it is big! Compared to our outgoing Cuisinart 4 slice it is a bit wider but a lot taller. It is as big or a bit bigger than the Gordon Ramsay, a toaster we liked but despite its size did not toast the tops of the bread slices. The slots are almost ridiculously wide, and can practically accommodate an unsliced bagel. And no problem with depth...my oversize sourdough slices are completely swallowed up. The stainless steel finish is top quality and the large embossed WARING logo on the front makes it look like it belongs in a commercial kitchen.
Controls are simple. There are the ubiquitous toast levers, a defrost and bagel button, and a rheostatic toast control that oddly enough combines a switch to cancel the toast. It feels like an old time radio volume control that doubled as the power switch...turn it all the way counterclockwise and it clicks to cancel. I can't say I am very fond of this feature as you have to remember your previous toast setting when you turn the toaster back on. Crumb trays are removable from the front, which is quite handy.
Performance is quite good. As expected, moister unsweetened breads like English muffins and of course my sourdough loaves are barely done even at the maximum setting. However regular breads toast perfectly at the medium setting with a slight bias towards one side (the side that works with reduced power for the bagel setting). The toaster doesn't need to be preheated, and repeated cycling produces consistent results.
Obviously Waring has learned a thing or two about toasters, having 3 lines of commercial food service models. Can't say if this consumer model will be durable, and only time will tell. So far we are very happy that we finally found a decent toaster, and at a more than reasonable price. We won't be too upset if it doesn't last, and we might even go for a Waring commercial down the line.