Hours: Lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dinner, Sunday through Thursday, 5:30 to 10 p.m., sandwiches till midnight; Friday and Saturday, 5:30 to 11 p.m., sandwiches till 1 a.m. Closes at 1 a.m. weeknights and 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Atmosphere: Busy, social, crowded, not for very young children.

Price Range: Sandwiches from $2.40 to $2.95; Dinners from $4.75 to $7.95.

Credit Cards: American Express, Master Charge, Visa, Northern Virginia Bank Card, personal check with I.D.

Reservations: For large parties only.

Special facilities: Parking in shopping center lot, booster seats, accessible to the handicapped.

Somebody said, "Go to Joe Theismann's." I said, "Who's Joe Theismann?" And then nobody spoke to me for a long time, like from September to January.

Then his name and his picture started appearing on the front pages, especially Monday mornings with headlines like 587-yard touchdown pass, or some such, and I knew where my duty lay. There was still the possibility that despite the funny looking suit he wore, he could cook.

I was enlightened and somewhat relieved when the hostess, who told us the wait would be about 20 minutes that Friday evening, also said that Theismann doesn't do the cooking. He owns the restaurant in partnership with three other men. And business was booming, despite the small sign.

Don't look for a Joe Theismann restaurant sign as we did in our three incomplete passes through Baileys Cross Roads. Look for a shopping center dominated by a Dart Drug just west of the crossroads on Rte. 7.

And don't expect football helmets as part of the decor. They are nowhere in evidence - just some nice prints, some hanging plants, Tiffany-type lamps and blue-and-white-checked tablecloths in the narrow, crowded room with a small bar in the middle.

The old Wurlitzer jukebox was turned low and overwhelmed by the buzz of conversations. I was told that Joe and several of his oversize friends would be in later in the evening, and that the jukebox, which listed two versions of "Hail to the Redskins," wasn't turned up until 11 p.m. The restaurant currently seats 86 with a planned expansion to 146.

We started our meal with the French onion soup, $1.50, which was very good, suitably crocked and topped with bread and cheese, and the breaded mushrooms, for $2.95, which were deep fried and delicious. With the arrival of the mushrooms, the suspicion began to take root that nobody had told those in the kitchen that they weren't serving the team. I ate mushrooms, my husband ate mushrooms, our 5-year-old ate mushrooms, and I considered offering some to the people next to us.

We then played musical salad bowl with my salad. It came with the dinner - or was $1.50 ordered separately - and was of the same proportions as the mushrooms. It was mostly shredded lettuce, but the bleu cheese dressing was out of this world. When we got half-way down the bowl, we asked for more dressing and polished off the rest of it.

Since there was no children's menu, our 5-year-old, a purist, ordered the half-pound hamburger, $2.40, from the sandwich menu, resisting such items as the bacon cheeseburger, $2.60. Naturally, it was huge and he could only finish half of it.

My husband opted for the Number 7, the Joe Theismann special of roast beef with melted cheese, coleslaw and lettuce with Russian dressing, $2.75. He declared it very good, along with the big plate of ranch fries that came with it. I was disappointed in the veal Francais, $5.95 on the dinner menu, which was heavy on garlic and tough. At that point it didn't matter much since we had already reached the doggy bag stage. We had them include cherry and pecan pie in our take-home bag - for our breakfast, our son explained. The cherry pie got his approval, but the pecan was lacking.

Other dinners offered include flounder stuffed with clams and bread for $4.75, London broil for $5.25, crab imperial or filet mignon for $6.95 and scampi for $7.95.

Our bill for the evening including wine and tip, was $22.05.

As we were leaving, a young crowd was coming in. We were told that the place was very popular after the local high school games and, of course, Sundays, when the Redskins play at home.