Pros: Very effective; superior design of small grating holes; cross between a grater and a mandoline; dishwasher-safe
Cons: Easy to miss the track when putting the slider attachment back on
Rating: 5 out of 5
First posted 11/29/2005
Review item courtesy of Microplane Media Division
I was a little dubious when I first saw the Microplane “The Better” Box Grater. It’s a box-style grater with two grating sides, one coarse-grained and one fine-grained. It has a mandoline-style acrylic slider that you fit into a track on either side, with a door that you hold against the food you’re grating. My past experiences with anything mandoline-styled have been poor. In this case, however, that experience did not hold true.
My only slight negative is that when attaching the slider, it can be easy to miss the track if you aren’t careful. However, this doesn’t mean that you’re risking your fingers or anything–it just means that sometimes it takes two or three tries to get it attached, and this can be alleviated by paying closer attention to what you’re doing. Other than this it’s extremely easy to remove and attach the slider; to remove you simply depress the tabs on the top of the frame that normally stop it from sliding too far.
The normal-sized grating holes are everything I expect from a Microplane grater by now–incredibly sharp and effective. I find it takes less time and effort to grate with a Microplane than with most other graters, and you’re less likely to end up with mush at the end of it. The slider does a wonderful job of protecting your fingers while holding the food closely enough to the holes that it ends up well-grated; this makes it much easier to grate small pieces of food such as the end of a chunk of cheese. The box grater works equally well without it however; you just need to be a little more careful with those fingers.
The small-sized grating holes are what truly won me over. The small holes on many graters are of minimal effectiveness. I find they often smush things more than grate them. If you’re dealing with those awful star-shaped grater holes then… well, I’ve never understood how someone could even term that a grater. I always ended up with much more stuff stuck in-between those little stars than in the bowl I was grating into. Not in this case, however. Microplane uses their usual style of square hole, just smaller. And, well, let’s just say I’ve never powdered chocolate before. Literally. I can think of all sorts of uses for that, from decorating the top of a cake to rolling truffles in powdered chocolate instead of cocoa. The same was true of cheese–pepper jack was a little soft to powder adequately, but cheddar worked just fine.
My first thought when I saw the better box grater was “nice grater; semi-pointless slide attachment.” Now my view is, “fantastic grater; really handy slide attachment.” Any reworking of a standard kitchen implement that can give me whole new ideas for things to do in the kitchen is good by me! And just to make it truly wonderful, it comes perfectly clean in the dishwasher. It doesn’t get much better than that.