Hours: 6:30 a.m. to midnight (after Sept. 1 until 2 a.m.).
Prices: At lunch, from $2 for soup to $6.95 for a steak sandwich. Dinner entrees from $6.75 to $14.50.
Atmosphere: You can watch the clouds roll by through the glass roof that covers the cheerful, plant-filled dining room; American and European cooking.
Reservations: Not accepted. Credit Cards: Visa, Master Charge, Diners Club, Carte Blanche and American Express.
Special Facilities: Booster and high chairs; meal splitting permitted for children; accessible to patrons in wheelchairs who can reach the dining area by elevator.
August. Camp is over, the neighborhood is deserted and our two children hover on the edge of irreversible TV addiction.
To retrieve the girls from their summer torpor, we find one lone playmate whose family has not yet abandoned the swamplands of Washington, and we all head out in the noonday smog in desperate search of cool and pleasant distraction.
We find it on Capitol Hill, at the semi-posh Hyatt Regency Hotel, most famous for its glass-roofed, multilevel lobby where common house plants reach the size of dogwood trees.
The place is lush and leafy. Potted chrysanthemums are everywhere, and the walls, carpeting and chairs in the Park Promenade Restaurant, which wraps around the lobby, are a cool forest green. A fountain gurgles in the middle of this air-conditioned garden.
What our foursome likes best is the people. There are lots of them. None of us has seen a crowd since the Fourth of July.
We queue up at the Park Promenade and almost immediately are shown to a table by an outrageously cheerful maitre d'. We get the luck of the draw again in our waiter, who brightens at the sight of the three children and vows to take good care of them. He does.
The menu is loaded with standard lunchtime fare of sandwiches, salads and omelettes. There are some surprises such as a sweet and sour Russian cabbage soup for $2 (or $3 for a super bowl), a hot dog kebab made with knockwurst and kielbasi, $4.75, and matzoh ball soup (a cup is free if you can prove you have a cold).
We get mired down in choosing. The chili, $2.25, sounds good and so does the chicken salad sandwich, $3.95. Ther's sauteed filet of sole for $6.25 or eggs benedict, $5.25, for anyone who missed chow call at breakfast.
Our waiter sells my 10- and 12-year-old daughters on the hamburgers, which bear the fancy price tags of $3.75. But then, these are fancy deals, accompanied by a truckload of fries and slices of fresh melon, pineapple and oranges. The burgers are juicy and cooked to order, but ther's rumbling in the ranks over the Russian-type dressing that was spread on the rolls without advance warning.
Our 9-year-old friend, who usually possesses a diminutive appetite, tackles a two-inch thick bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, $3.50. She eats the whole thing, leaving only the scoops of slaw and potato salad undisturbed on her plate.
I forego the "de lox" salad, $6.75, with smoked salmon, to satisfy my curiosity about the hot dog kebab. Polish sausage, knockwurst, onion and green pepper have been smartly whacked into chunks, skewered and grilled. A cheese sauce is dribbled over the top. All this resides on harmless-looking English muffins which in truth have been smeared with a mustard sauce that can toast your tonsils. Nonetheless, this is a tasty and original creation.
The girls leave the table for a brisk walk around the lobby and through the gift shop. They're vainly trying to make room for the banana coma or the co co lo co or Uncle Dan's double devil pie, all sumptuous and large ice cream wonders in the $2 and $3 range.
Our waiter sees their dilemma and offers to have mini-sundaes made for them. These $1 desserts come fully equipped with whipped cream, nuts, miniature ice cream cones and a double fudge sauce that gets a Best in Town award.
While our bill is tallied, we glance at the Park Promenade's dinner menu. Prices go from $6.75 for fish 'n chips to $14.50 for filet mignon. We are told that the restaurant will soon introduce a children's dinner menu. In the meantime, little ones may split meals at both lunch and supper for an extra plate charge of $1.
Our bill, including tip, is $24.81. We can't quite face leaving this oasis yet, so we ride to the top of the 11-story hotel in its glass-walled elevator. The view through the murky air isn't exactly breathtaking but it beats TV on a sultry afternoon.