Quaint French restaurant packs in flavor and people

When my father came down from NJ for the week, I decided it was a prime time to finally visit the much-buzzed about Houston’s in Coral Gables. When we arrived, we were met by velvet ropes, an hour wait and too many Miami power couples dressed in too-expensive Prada mini-skirts and electric blue two-piece suits.

Down the road a bit, at 2415 Ponce de Leon, we discovered a quaint French restaurant called Les Halles. After a short 5-minute wait, we were promptly seated in one of the wooden tables. We were surrounded by people and slightly squashed, seeing as noisy tables all around us (including a retirement party) were making it a strain to even hear our waitress.

The place itself had confusing decorations, Mexican-like paintings of French locales. It was only one room without any type of partitions or walls. This added to the claustrophobia, and I’m sure the retirement party was also a factor, though perhaps it’s not usually like that.

To make up for this minor disturbance, the food itself was just perfect. My entree, a grilled vegetable plate, was bursting with sweet flavor.

Each vegetable was grilled with just the right seasoning and for just the right amount of time to bring out maximum flavor. The caramelized onions melted in my mouth, and the moist zucchini (a vegetable that has a habit of tasting plain) was just as sugary. A side salad’s dressing complimented the overall abundance of moist sweetness perfectly.

My friend raved about her Chicken Caesar salad, calling it “delicious” and giving compliments specifically to the dressing. My quite simple, unsophisticated dad (though I do very much love him), when asked about his steak said, “It’s a steak.”

The final exclamation on the dinner came in the end, with dessert. I had almost had my fill, yet still ordered vanilla ice cream filled puff pastries with chocolate sauce on top. The waiter brought over the dessert and poured the chocolate sauce at the table. It looked so scrumptious that it seemed a crime to taste it, but of course I dug right in.

“Perfection” was the first word that came to my mind. My friend muttered “incredible” while gobbling down a bite.

And our sentiments were not hyperbolic in the least. The small, flaky pastries filled with a small dollop of vanilla ice cream were fine by themselves, but it was the chocolate that really stood out in the dish – it was as sinfully delicious as chocolate gets. It’s always wonderful when dessert tops an already excellent meal.

The service was only so-so, however. This is Miami, so drinks refills are expected to be long delayed, but “They’re leaving me high and dry” is a phrase I used frequently. Moderately pricey, a meal for one should come out to about 25 dollars, a meal for two perhaps 40-50.