Open for lunch Monday through Friday, 11:30 to 2:30, and for dinner, 5:30 to 10 Monday through Thursday, 5:30 to 10:30 Friday and Saturday, and 4 to 9 on Sunday. Reservations a good idea. Accepts major credit cards. Parking in adjacent lot. Accessible to handicapped customers.

Friends of ours who live in Bowie suggested our family join their family for dinner at Widow Brown's, a restaurant five minutes from their home. They didn't know too much about it, although they'd heard the food was pretty good and they, like us, were intrigued by the name.

Our son, who had joined us for dinner under protest - he wanted to watch the second half of the Sunday football game - was in heaven the minute we walked into the restaurant. The front part of Widow Brown's is a lounge and bar with television set and tables with computer tennis and hockey games.

Our table for eight was in one of the many bookcase-lined, wood-paneled back rooms. With the books, red checked tablecloths, and dim lighting, Widow Brown's has quite a sophisticated atmosphere. In spite of the bar, lounge and lighting, however, most of the other customers at Widow Brown's on a Sunday evening were families. There were several toddlers and a few infants in high chairs.

Our son, 9, and our friends' son, also 9, gave the menu a quick once-over, placed their orders and camped out near the television sets. Our daugthers decided their brothers were very silly, while we grown-ups shared a carafe of house wine and studied the menu. Part of the menu was on a printed card, but specials of the day were chalked up on a blackboard. Our waitress told us that several of the items in the printed menu and on the blackboard were available in a child's portion for $2.00 less than the regular price.

The printed menu choices were of the steak and seafood variety: London broil, $6.25; New York sirloin, $8.65; broiled shrimp, $6.95; prime ribs, $9.25. On the blackboard were more exotic choices: veal cordon bleu, $6.95; trout amandine, $6.95; and spare-ribs, $6.95; to name a few.

The boys had both ordered spare-ribs, which were available in child-sized portions. Our daughter, 11, ordered broiled shrimp, which the waitress said came five shrimp to the adult serving, three to the child serving. Since entrees included baked potato, bread and butter, and a salad bar, she thought she could manage with the child' portion. Our friends' daugther, also 11, wanted chicken teriyaki, $7.95; unfortunately, that was one of the dishes that could not be split for a child. The waitress said it was half a chicken and that was the only way it came. Our friends ordered the sirloin steak and London broil, while my husband insisted on trying veal parmegan, $6.95, rarely a good bet in a steak-seafood restaurant, and I ordered queen-sized prime rib for $7.25. After she took our order, the waitress headed us toward the salad bar. It wasn't the most elaborate salad bar we've seen, but everything was fresh and good. The bread, which each customer cut to suit his or her taste, was undistinguished, but we enjoyed the lettuce, cherry tomatoes, shredded cheese, croutons, bacon bits, and pickled vegetables.

Our waitress very kindly fetched our sons when the main course was due to arrive. The spare-ribs were deemed just spicy enough to make them interesting, the broiled shrimp disappeared without a word, but the chicken teriyaki was too much for an 11-year old to finish. The busboy suggested a take-home bag, and we gave him the go-ahead.

Both the London broil and sirloin were well prepared. The roast beef was awfully large for the supposedly smaller queen size, and once again a take-home bag was arranged. Given the flack he got for ordering veal parmegan, I doubt if my husband would have admitted it if it were bad, but he said it was good, offered tastes to anyone interested, and finished off the dish.

The boys disappeared again after dinner, and once again our waitress rose to the occasion. She went into the bar area and asked them what they want for dessert. Among the eight of us, we tried pecan pie, $.95, cheese-cake,$.95, german chocolate pie, $.95; and chocolate and vanilla ice cream, $.65 a serving. The pies were outstanding with the exception of the crust which was like the bread, undistinguished.

Considering how much we all enjoyed our meals and the fact that the bill for four of us came to $32.03, including a carafe of wine and four desserts, we decided to forget about the bland bread. We also thought our waitress, Tina had provided very accommodating and friendly service, and that more than made up for unflaky pie crust.