French cuisine thrives in Gables

After plans to dine at a Coral Gables restaurant fell through, a friend and I cruised Ponce de Leon Boulevard, scoping out the numerous restaurants that line the avenue. My goal was to find a restaurant where I could enjoy food and ambience on a student budget. We settled for Les Halles, a French bistro near the corner of Miracle Mile and Ponce. I did not have reservations, and though it was a Saturday night with a nearly full house, I had no trouble finding a table.

Wine enthusiasts with a budget constraint can indulge in the demi-bouteille(half-bottle). Depending on the wine, it can actually come out cheaper than ordering two glasses. We chose a 1998 Medoc with a very light finish. Meanwhile, conversation at the surrounding tables had reached airport-landing-strip-decibel levels, in essence matching the loudness of a true bistro.

The waiter advised us to choose quickly. I selected two appetizers, the calamari and the escargots, again keeping in mind the student who wants taste on a budget. My friend opted for the opposite side, the student who wants a sizable plate, no frills, and ordered the steak au poivre (pepper steak, accompanied with french fries). The cost of the two appetizer portions were equivalent to that of the entr