Can we just pass a law that requires restaurants to have vestibules? Is there any reason why I should pay good money to dine in a room whose temperature fluctuates between 62 degrees (door closed for a while) and 55 degrees (door opened to direct blast of cold air at my table).
Luckily, the service and the vibe at Vinoco in Mineola exudes warmth and so, during this most recent arctic chill, I was willing to forgo a certain amount of comfort. What I wasn’t prepared for, though, was a certain lack of care in the food.
We ordered five of the restaurants’ small plates, and I’d say the batting average was .600.
Patatas bravas, the great Spanish potato dish, should be made from potatoes that have been boiled until tender and then fried (or at least vigorously roasted) until crispy, then seasoned with lots of smoky paprika and served with a garlic mayonnaise. These potatoes were both undercooked and undercrisped. Our meatballs were serviceable, but the tomato sauce they sat in had none of the bright freshness of top-quality canned tomatoes.
Better were mushrooms al ajillo, sauteed with garlic and topped with fried chickpeas, and the paella croquettes, fried balls of what I assume is leftover chicken-chorizo paella. They were good enough to make me regret not having ordered a big plate of paella. The best small plate we had was the least Spanish: Asian buns stuffed with pork belly and topped with a lovely garnish of cilantro and pickled daikon.
An average of .600 is a good for a ballplayer; not so great for a restaurant.
Vinoco is at 147 Mineola Blvd., Mineola, 516-307-8056