Hours: Open only for dinner, 5 p.m. to midnight Tuesday through Saturday, and until 11 p.m. Sunday. The kitchen closes an hour earlier all nights. Closed monday.
Atmosphere: A combination of Swiss chalet and hunting lodge, friendly and warm. A sign on the door says "proper attire," which means no jeans.
Price range: From bratwurst or knockwurst, at $3.25, to trout, at $7.25.
Credit cards: American Express, Visa, Master Charge.
Reservations: Advisable, especially on weekends.
Special facilities: Steps leading into the restaurant make sucess by wheelchair difficult. Kiddies' equipment available. Free Parking
Brook Farm Restaurant has changed hands many times over its long history, but the most recent transfer was just two months ago when two young Silver Spring men, Daniel and Jerry Abramson, took over.
The mainstays of the Brook Farm menu, German specialties such as sauerbraten and stuffed cabbage, have been joined by others of a more international nature.
Brook Farm isn't a place to go when you're after a quick cheap bite between errands. For families, it is a special occasion place, the kind of place to take your kids when you want to remind them about tablecloths and other niceties of dining out. This is not to say that it's somber and stiff. As another Family Out writer found almost two years ago, restless toddlers and infants are looked upon with benevolence here.
But on to the food: Quality is still good, too. We began with a generous glass of white wine for me and a Wurzburger dark beer for my husband. A basket of warm bread accompanied the drinks, and we admonished ourselves not to fill up on bread even as we finished the last crumb. It came with unsalted butter, a nice touch.
Our two children, ages 12 and 13, started with a combination that would cause most adults to cry out in horror - escargots with Cokes. The waitress, to her credit, did not flinch.
The children reported that the snails, priced at $3 per order, were the best they'd ever eaten. Washing them down with Cokes made them all the better.
My husband and I started with pea soup and shrimp bisque, respectively. They were on the special blackboard listing for the evening, and were well-seasoned and tasty, at $1.25 a cup.
We did our best to span the range from least to most expensive main courses. The children both wanted bratwurst, priced at a thrifty $3.25. Our son took one optional side dish, potato salad, and our daughter the other, sauerkraut. They were both vinegary and good.
My busband tucked into his sauerbraten, potato pancake and red cabbage with great abandon, his eyes brimming with memories of growing up in Cincinnati, where they really understand such things. The sauerbraten was priced on the high side of the menu range, at $6.95.
Most of the German specialties ranged from $6 to $7.
I opted for the international entry, the roast chicken with tarragon sauce, a special of the day, at $6.75. The chicken was crisp and flavorful on the outside and still juicy inside. The sauce was a bit heavy, but fragrant with tarragon.
If the picky eaters in your family might not go for sauerbraten or snails, consult the left side of the menu for those all-American favorites: hamburgers with fries priced at $3.50, chicken at $4.75 and shrimp, $4.75.
The Abramsons make their pastries on the premises and have them positioned by the front door so that your mind can register them on the way in while you're still starving.
Our daughter's fear that the rum-chocolate trifle would be too rummy was allayed by our sympathetic waitress, who brought her a generous bite to taste. Other choices, all $1.75, were a rum-and-chocolate cake and a Black Forest cake. All were wonderful.
Though there is no children's menu on a regular basis, the Abramsons say that children's portions will be offered on holidays.
This extravaganza didn't come cheap. It added up to $40.64 plus tip. Of course, if your kids don't like snails, you could come away a lot cheaper.