Atmosphere: Decor is simple, but the food isn't; countless offerings for those who aren't convinced that spice is the variety of life.

Price range: From vegetable curry at $2.95 to grand combination dinners at $6.95.

Hours: Lunches Mondays through Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., dinners every day from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Special facilities: Booster chairs for children. Street parking. Access by wheelchair quite difficult because of outside steps.

Reservations: Not necessary.

Credit cards: American Express, Master Charge, Visa.

Based on one previous foray on the Family Out circuit, our two kids were well aware that Indian food doesn't necessarily mean maize for the Pilgrims. All the same, they weren't exactly giddy at the prospect of heavy curry or other stomach-blazers.

But now they talk fondly of a pleasant young restaurant called the Calcutta, where one need not curry favor to get along. And their parents, who are no more knowledgeable when it comes to Indian cuisine, can report most favorably on the visit as well.

Among splashy restaurants, this one would be a drop in the bucket - a small window-front in the shadow of the TV tower at Broadcast House. Indeed, the whole of the Calcutta is roughly three rows of tables and two people to tend them.

On the evening we dropped in, a weeknight shortly before 8, we were able to commandeer the choicest location, next to a large plant in the window - by carefully making our way through a throng of one couple conversing around a baby who was lashed to an infant seat in the middle of their table.

In keeping with its exterior, the Calcutta's decor inside is modest: red and white tablecloths (yes, linen napkins as well), those garden candles in the jars, several tasteful tapestries and some quiet background music that must have been Indian and which, given the limited attendance, worked to quell any outbreaks of total silence.

Our hostess, whose charm made up for a decided language barrier, took our beverage order and returned with apologies for having run out of the Indian beer she had mentioned and for not having the bitter lemon that might have gone well with rum. The Calcutta

4615 41st St. NW. 244-8588.

Atmosphere: Decor is simple, but the food isn't; countless offerings for those who aren't convinced that spice is the variety of life.

Price range: From vegetable curry at $2.95 to grand combination dinners at $6.95.

Hours: Lunches Mondays through Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., dinners every day from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Special facilities: Booster chairs for children. Street parking. Access by wheelchair quite difficult because of outside steps.

Reservations: Not necessary.

Credit cards: American Express, Master Charge, Visa.[TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE] We agreed on two Cokes and two beers from this homeland.

Then came the hard part - figuring out dinner from a long and tantalizing list of specialties. Just for appetizers, for example, there are nine intriguing offerings from 50 cents to $2.

Three of us decided to wing it with a pooled selection. Our 11-year-old son picked "A-6," which was Shahi Kebab - grilled meat balls with spices, at $1. My wife selected "A-2," entitled Cocktail Kebab, mixed vegetables grilled with still other mystery spices, for $1. My contribution was the house-specialty soup, made from fresh vegetables, at $1.25.

Heaven knows whether the other "A" dishes are A-plus or not, but our three made the grade easily. From our son's order, some spicy meat balls, all right; from my wife's, some little things that looked like hamburgers made out of chop suey, but which were really wonderfu eyebrow-soakers - tasty morsels with a mean afterburn; and my choice, a yellowy curry soup that came away from a family poll with three ayes and one shaky "I guess so."

Arriving with this set of starters were three sauces that merit mention, or should we say warnings: the red one was chutney, which you may or may not like, the orange one was lemon pickle, which we didn't care for, and the green one is an invitation to immolation that only the asbestos-tongued should attempt to sample. My wife, who did try it, suffered watery eyes and a momentary loss of speech.

When it comes to main dishes, the selections really do boggle. One set of specialties, for example, involves a series of platters from beef and chicken at $6.95 each to lamb or goat at $7.75 and shrimp at $8.25.

Then our 8-year-old daughter fell upon what turned out to be a perfect dish for young palates - the Chicken Tika Tanduri dinner, known to insiders as "T-20," at $4.95. It's a boneless chicken, beautifully charcoal-cooked and not at all spicy, served with rice and chapati, a sahara-like bread. Both children ordered this one and traded samples with their parents.

In exchange for bits of their chicken, which was rolled up in a way that made it resemble shrimp, they got to participate with us in a great game of musical foods - since my wife and I each ordered fascinating combination dinners.

Her choice - the Tanduri Dinner, at $6.95, featured chicken, beef, lamb and shrimp, each baked to a sort-of lobster red in a smooth sauce that didn't scorch a tastebud.

My selection was the combination curry dinner at $6.95, which offers you any four of 21 different curries - a light curry, mind you - in separate little dishes. I tried Chicken Palak (that's boneless with spinach), lamb, Gosh Palak (beef with spinach) and Keema Matar (ground beef with green peas).

Each was different, each was great. I only wish I could have sampled some of the 17 other curries. The parents' meals also included a choice of the chapati bread that the kids had, or puri, which is a nifty puffy bread that we tried.

Once again we must fail you when it comes to desserts, for we seem to have too big a time trading, main courses. In any event, the children were ecstatic in their assessments of the evenings' intake, which came to $32.56 plus tip.

As we understood it, the Calcutta, which is operated by the same people who run the Indian Curry House on Calvert Street NW, has been open since January. We hope it stays that way for many a month more.