Hours: Lunch, Mondays, through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2.30 p.m., dinner, Sundays through Thursdays from 6 to 11:30 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays 6 p.m. to midnight. Atmosphere: Where else but in Georgetown would an English tea room-pubsteak house rustle up Italian dishes? Price Range: From spaghetti under $5 to an array of entrees under $7. Credit Cards: American Express, Amoco Torch Club, Carte Blanche, Master Charge, Visa. Reservations: Call ahead on weekends for a seating report. Special Facilities: Accessible by wheelchair. Seating for small ones can be arranged. Street parking if you believe in miracles.
In sniffing around our town for family fodder, we rarely wind up in Georgetown, and it isn't just because the last child to live there left in the 1950s in search of someone to play with. It's just hard to park there.
When we do go, it's usually during the week and we usually say the same things about what attractive eateries there are and how nice it would be to be able to park the car and eat in one of them.
Ultimately we hit the sidewalks, read the right-hand sides of posted menus and pick.
This time it was M Street and a London underground station sign saying "Charing Cross" that drew us to an English-looking set of windows with a stained-glass "Open sign and-jolly good, bambini-wise-a menu of Italian dishes that our kids like.
Trooping through a barroom area, our foursome curved to the right into a small space that by day could pass for a tea room. By night, the candle-light helps.
The biggest thing in this room was a juke box with a desk top around it on which sat a green goblet filled with after-dinner mints and over which leaned a maitre d'. He surveyed the 15 more of less populated tables before tucking us around a butcher-block tabeltop along a side wall.
To buy a little time for note-taking off the menu, we commandered two draft beers (there are many kinds on tap here) and two coals.
Think of an Italian dish, and it's probably on the menu and probably under $7-veal every-which-way, chicken and of course lotsa pasta.
With noado whatsoever, our 9-year-old daughter filed a bid for baked chicken, $5.25, and slid out for a reconnaissance flight.We didn't understand her sudden interest in the lay of the land until we saw five familiar fingers coming up over the juke box and into the mints.
The good veals are $6.75 or $6.95, and three of us struck a veal deal-a different style for each and a few mumbled pledges to trade tastes. The rundown on these was: veal milanese for our 11-year-old son, parmigiana for may wife, francese for me and satisfaction all around.
First came a basket with a loaf of just-sliced, outsized French bread, slightly warmed and, due to its freshness, short-lived. Next were salads that drew nods of approval: mixtures of chick peas, tomatoes, mushrooms and red cabbage.
Each entree came with a generous side dish of spaghetti covered with a respectable tomato sauce. In three out of four instances, it would prove to be too much to polish off, but you won't learn here who did manage-and neither will my spoilsport doctor.
The veals were each two-slice, tender portions, with thought given to their preparation. Our daughter's choice, too, was excellent-a large half-chicken, browned on the outside and moist on the inside.
We were able to test the graciousness of the staff, thanks to a couple of dazzling feats of clumsiness on our part. When a spoon just happened to leap off the side of the table and hit the floor, someone was there in a flash to replace it.
Then when a glass of water just upped and fell over on its side, the same good samaritan came quickly with napkins while I was hand-wringing my tie.
Chocolate mousse at $1.25, said the dessert list, and why not, said our son. Then his mother and his sister and they'd split one. Determined to re-impose the restraints that by now have reduced me to the size of a mobile cement mixer, I held back.
I got the last no-cal laugh, too, because if that was really chocolate color: light brown ice cream or frozen custard was more like it.
Add to this two coffees and you come out at $36.50 plus tip. We also came out the envy of any taxidermist-all beautifully stuffed.