The Dacor Renaissance RNRP36GS 36-inch slide-in gas range intimidated me before I even started testing the model's performance -- I'd never cooked on an appliance that was worth more than my car. This luxury-brand range comes with an MSRP of $7,130, which makes it the most expensive range to come through the CNET test kitchen. In exchange for such a steep investment, you get a beautiful, easy-to-operate range that looks as if it was plucked from a commercial kitchen. The Dacor Renaissance RNRP36GS also has an oven that can roast a heckuva chicken.
However, the RNRP36GS has too many imperfections to justify its price, even for consumers who can afford such an expensive range. The flaws center on the oven's uneven baking and broiling performances. The Dacor Renaissance RNRP36GS would make a nice showpiece to impress guests in your home, but there are plenty of ranges that will give you an identical performance for less than $2,000, such as the Kenmore 74343 or the KitchenAid KGRS306BSS . Do you want to stick with Dacor and an electric oven is an option in your kitchen? Go with the Dacor Renaissance 30-inch Double Oven , a model that's in the same family as the RNRP36GS but provides the more consistent baking for $4,999.
More than one person in the CNET office compared the Dacor Renaissance RNRP36GS to a tank. Most models I've tested only have stainless steel on the oven door and control panel with black panels that surround the rest of unit. Dacor Renaissance RNRP36GS, however, is made entirely of stainless steel, which makes the range seem daunting in comparison to other models. The range's 36-inch width is larger than the 30-inch models we usually see, which just adds to the RNRP36GS's formidable presence. It also means you need the appropriate amount of space in your kitchen before you consider buying an oven this large.
Dacor relies on simplicity and symmetry in the RNRP36GS's design. You could haul this range into the kitchens of a novice cook and an amateur chef and both would feel at ease with the controls. There are no touchpads, digital screens, time display or advanced bake settings. Instead, this range has six heavy knobs to control each of its burners, a knob for the oven and two buttons to turn on the oven light and the convection fan. The most apparent uses of technology are the blue LED lights that backlight the buttons and surround the surface of each knob to indicate when they are in use.
The cooktop has six burners that provide 800-18,000 BTUs of power. Continuous cast-iron grates cover the cooktop for a professional, seamless look. It would've been nice to have the indicators for the oven knobs on the flat edge of the cooktop (similar to the KitchenAid KSGB900ESS gas range ). Instead, these indicators are on the front of the oven, so you have to bend at the waist or squat to make sure you're using the right knob.
The oven of the Dacor Renaissance RNRP36GS has a 5.2 cubic foot capacity. On paper, this puts this model on the small end of the oven size scale. For example, the KitchenAid KSGB900ESS has a 6.5-cubic-foot capacity, and the Whirlpool WEG730H0DS clocks in at 5.8 cubic feet. In reality, the Dacor Renaissance RNRP36GS's oven feels bigger than its listed size because the unit is 6 inches wider than the 30-inch-wide ovens I've reviewed. There's also an infrared broil burner in the oven, a feature we've seen on the LG Smart ThinQ electric oven that replaces a traditional coil system with a ceramic plate to sear or toast foods.
The Dacor Renaissance RNRP36GS comes with some nice extras to add to your cooking experience. These include a broiler pan, a griddle and a wok ring to stabilize a wok on the cooktop. A set of brass burner caps are also included with the range. They're attractive, but begin to discolor as soon as you turn on a burner, so save these caps for when you're showing off to houseguests. The RNRP36GS's oven comes with two GlideRacks, racks that roll out of the oven cavity like a drawer in a dresser. It's a lot smoother to remove food with these racks than a standard rack. However, the GlideRacks were a bit tricky to take in and out of the oven.
For $7,000, I expected nothing but phenomenal food and performance times from the Dacor Renaissance RNRP36GS's stovetop and oven. By the end of my tests, I rated the range's performance as just "fine," a designation that is suitable for a less expensive model but disappointing for a luxury brand like Dacor.
Let's start with the highlights of the Dacor Renaissance RNRP36GS's performance. This particular Dacor Renaissance model has a lot to live up to. Ry Crist reviewed the Dacor Renaissance 30-inch Double Wall , and this model produced exceptional roast chicken that has become the stuff of legend in the CNET office. The RNRP36GS's roast chicken didn't live up to the hype of its predecessor, but for the folks who were there for the legendary chicken, the newer version came pretty close. The skin was the best part of the chicken -- brown and crispy. The chicken breast wasn't as moist as we would've liked, but the dark meat was juicy and phenomenal.
The cooktop also performed well in my testing. In my first test, I cooked cans of tomato soup to 165 degrees F, then turned the burner to low for 20 minutes to track how well the burner kept the soup warm. Unlike the electric and induction models on which I've previously performed this test, the RNRP36GS's burner slowly increased the heat of the soup while it was on the same setting. The electric and induction models (the Samsung NE59J7630 and the Kenmore 95073 , respectively) gradually lost heat over a 20-minute period. The change in temperature illustrates the difference in behavior between the electric and induction stovetop whose burners cycle on and off to maintain temperature and the continuous heat of a gas unit.
The Dacor Renaisssance RNRP36GS's large burners were lackluster, even on the most powerful 18,000 BTU setting. It took 15.38 minutes to boil 112 ounces of water in a 5-quart pot, the slowest large burner boil test time we've seen from a gas range. The fastest large burner boil time we've seen was the modest Kenmore 74343 , a $1,400 unit that boiled the same amount of water in 9.75 minutes.
The infrared broiler was frustrating to use because of its position at the top of the oven. The ceramic broil plate is set in the back center of the oven and doesn't cover as much surface area as I've seen with traditional coil broilers. As a result, I had to push my pans of hamburger patties all the way to the back of the oven rather than centered as I usually do. The results show the heat distribution -- the burgers on the back row received the most direct heat from the broiler, while the front row was neglected. As a result, the back-row burgers were burnt on the outside by the time the burgers in the front row all reached 145 degrees F.
If you're not too concerned about evenness (I'm sure there are some of you out there), the Dacor Renaissance RNRP36GS's infrared broiler cooks burgers fast. The broiler brought six hamburger patties to 145 degrees F in an average of 15.57 minutes, edging past the GE PGS920SEFSS gas range that cooked the burgers in 15.83 minutes, and the KitchenAid KSGB900ES that cooked burgers in 15.88 minutes.
The disappointment continued when it was time to bake biscuits. Preheating the RNRP36GS is a pain. There is a small blue LED indicator light next to the oven temperature knob that is supposed to flash on and off every few seconds once the range has reached your desired temperature. Instead of flashing, the light just goes off for a couple of minutes, then back on for a couple of minutes, and so on. Why is this inconvenient? You can't tell if the oven light has flashed off and back on if you walk away from the unit for more than a few minutes. I had to sit right beside the oven in order to keep an eye on that little light. I needed a little ding or flashier flashing to give me a better idea of when my oven is ready for cooking.
Two sheets of biscuits baked to irregular levels of brownness in the bake tests I conducted once I got the oven going. The convection fan, which is supposed to distribute the oven's heat more evenly than traditional baking, didn't have much impact on the tests. Some biscuits even teetered toward burnt around the edges after only baking for 9 minutes.
The Dacor Renaissance RNRP36GS's oven did a little better when I baked a single tray of muffins in traditional mode. At first, I wanted to blame the unreliable double-rack baking on the use of gas to heat the oven. But other gas models such as the Electrolux EI30GF35JS and the KitchenAid KSGB900ESS consistently churned out more even biscuits. So I can't blame the RNRP36GS's power source on its poor baking performance.
Despite my initial hesitance, I was rooting for the Dacor Renaissance RNRP36GS. I wanted exceptional cook times, even baking and succulent chicken. I wanted to see $7,000 worth of cooking power in action. Overall, the range performed on par with less expensive gas ovens we've tested and failed to show me why its performance is worth such a huge expense. Yes, it's good-looking. But I'd rather have an ugly and reliable $1,600 oven than a beautiful, lackluster $7,000 machine.