Tuesday until Thursday, 11:30 a.m. until midnight. Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. until 2 a.m. Sunday noon until midnight. Closed Mondays. No reservations. No credit cards or personal checks. Carry out service. Persons in wheelchairs accommodated.

La Ruche is a pretty little cafe in Georgetown where you can take the family for fine, if simple, French cooking without demolishing the weekly budget.

La Ruche is not a sauce Bordelaise and tournedos Rossini place, but is reminiscent of an auberge you might find in the French countryside. It offers a limited luncheon menu for homemade soups, salad, quiches and sandwiches on French bread, of course and heartier specials are added in the evening.

While La Ruche is informal and children are welcome, it's not especially appropriate for the very young since no American - style food is served and there are no amenities like booster chairs. It's good for introducing older children to the pleasures of French food, and the superb meatless meals will appeal to teenagers who scorn their parents' carnivorous eating habits.

We are told on the menu that La Ruche means beehive or a place of great activity, a valid description the sultry Friday night we went there. No reservations are accepted and the line went out the door (so did the air conditioning), but we were seated after a 15 - minutes wait.

La Ruche is tiny, holding about 45 people. An illusion of space is created, however, by the white brick walls and a large window through which you can wathc the passersby, and they can watch you.

Our 8-year-old daugher started having fried chicken withdrawal anxieties as we interpreted the menu for her. When she eyed some magnificent pastries being delivered to the next table, however, she would have waded through an ocean of pate fois de gras to earn dessert. She surprised herself by enjoying lamb stew Provencale, $4.95, even eating most of the vegetables that flavored the chuncks of lamb.

Our other child, who is 10, by some fluke likes mushrooms and announced she would try the mushroom quiche, $2.95. It was a wise choice since La Ruche manages to return this dish, which is popular everywhere, to the special treat category; it was rich and oozing with cheese.

Given the rank weather, the cold gazpacho soup, at $1.85, looked appealing (they also had cold cucumber soup for $1.50). The waitress earned points by advising us to split an order since one serving is a meal in itself. Gazpacho, as almost everybody now knows, is a Spanish invention, in which chopped garden vegetables are blended with oil, lemon and vinegar. La Ruche performed this task well but the soup should have been colder.

I had crabmeat souffle, for $4.95, that was contained in its own rectangular pastry shell and was more like crab imperial than souffle. No matter what you call it; it was very satisfying.

None of us could make out the curious flavor in the white cream sauce accompanying my husband's filet of Boston sole, $4.95.It seemed to me that somebody dropped a little Chanel NO. 5 in the sauce. The fish itself was perfection, not overcooked and mushy.

Among other items offered at La Ruche were "sandwich pate maison." a puff pastry with cheese and sauce, quiche with ham, and a sandwich made with French toast and baked ham and cheese - all these are under $3.05.

At last, the moment we were waiting for. The whole family took off to inspect the bakery case. The black forest cake, the chocolate and whipped cream "roule" and the tarts - each made with the freshest of fruit and custard on the lightest of pastry - were masterpieces. One of the kids could not resist the honeydew melon filled with strawberries the size of golfballs.

No alcoholic beverages except wine are offered at La Ruche, and soft drinks are not served. Milk, iced tea or juice is available and grownups can have espresso coffee, cappuccino or cafe creme.

The service was speedy, allowing us plenty of time to roam the streets of Georgetown after super. The bill came to $28.65.

La Ruche. 1206 30th St. NW. 9652684. Tuesday until Thursday, 11:30 a.m. until midnight; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. until 2 a.m.; Sunday, noon until midnight. Closed Mondays. No reservations. No credit cards or personal checks. Carry out service. Persons in wheelchairs accommodated.