What is it? - It's dinner at Vinoco in Mineola. [NOTE - do not click on that link unless you want to hear Santana's "Black Magic Woman" on a perpetual loop with no way of stopping it.] From top to bottom we have:
1.) Spicy Korean Style Boneless Chicken salad (gochujang), except with grilled chicken substituted (more on that later);
2.) Vinoco’s Special Angus Sliders;
3.) the "Grand Skewer Combo," featuring six different types of skewers, and
4.) Roasted Potatoes a la Brava, which were served as a free app.
What led you to choose this restaurant and these items? - We had a Groupon which wasn't getting any younger. That's pretty much it.
How were the food and the experience? - Well, that can't really be answered without a lengthy explanation. Here goes.
We arrived around sunset, and immediately we noted the overly "festive" atmosphere, particularly in the form of a table full of obnoxious, entitled, generally unpleasant teenage girls. Of course, you can't choose your customers, so I guess ya can't hold that against Vinoco, but these dumb twats were so loud that I wound up balling up pieces of paper napkin and stuffing them in my ears to shut them out.
Shortly, we were served a bowlful of "roasted potatoes a la brava," which were dusted with smoked paprika and had a very nice red pepper aoli sauce drizzled on them. These were *free*, and it's a nice twist on the usual "bread or rolls as a pre-app" situation. Unfortunately I couldn't have more than a few chunks because of my low-carb restrictions, but the pieces I tried were delicious.
When we ordered, I wanted a light beer with my meal, but after ordering first a Bud Light, then an Amstel Lite, I was informed that they were out of both. What can ya do, I guess, but since this place doesn't have a full bar, I was now SOL with regard to low-carb alcoholic beverage choices. The waiter was extremely apologetic about this.
We settled on the items shown above. The skewers were the first to arrive, and they ranged from delicious (notably the chicken and the shrimp) to the odd (the falafel) to the totally unheated and cold (the steak and the meatball). And the portions were pathetic; $20+ for these tiny skewers is a total fucking ripoff.
I have to mention that the waiters were very helpful. The place seemed woefully understaffed, with only two waiters (only one of whom could actually communicate in English) for the whole room. After I mentioned my low-carb restrictions, he suggested that we switch my order of the Spicy Korean Chicken Salad to grilled chicken instead of breaded and fried. (The menu says nothing about the manner of preparation for the chicken, so I was grateful for this.)
The entrees (Spicy Korean Chicken Salad and the Angus sliders) were pretty good, even if the sliders, supposedly served on arepas, were much thinner and greasier than arepas I've had before. The other ingredients in the sliders (24 hour marinated beef, chimichurri sauce and crispy onions) worked quite well together. On the salad, the chicken was a bit underdone for my taste, but I probably should've mentioned to the waiter beforehand that I like my chicken well done. Can't fault 'em there. The sauce seemed to be a typical sweet chili sauce, which I'm always a sucker for.
So, to recap... - I dunno. Basically, there's no way that I would've eaten here in the first place without that Groupon, and having eaten here once, there's little chance that I'd eat here again. Not that it's bad, but Long Island has so many great dinner options reasonably close by that why bother coming back here. The service was great, don't get me wrong, but I would've been pretty upset at the price-to-quantity-of-food ratio had it not been for the Groupon discount.