Hours: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday.
Atmosphere: Casual and friendly.
Credit cards: All major credit cards accepted.
Reservations: Not necessary.
Price range: Dinners from $5.50 for spaghetti to $12.50 for lobster tail. Children's dishes range from $2.50 to $3.50. A 20 percent discount on the Early Bird Special for patrons who dine between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
Special Facilities: Free parking; banquet and private party facilities; Sunday brunch; live music after 9 p.m. Patrons in wheelchairs may have difficulty with a curb step.
Puff's is a fairly new restaurant in the Oakton Shopping Center on the site of several previous eating establishments.
That the place has undergone a few facelifts is apparent from the decor. Dark paneling and stained glass windows are leftovers from the days when the building housed an English pub, and some glittery wallpaper remains from a Polynesian predecesor.
We were a little apprehensive as we waited to be seated because the early signs did not seem right for dining with children. The dining room appeared empty, while the bar was full. d
As it turned out, however, the restaurant looked emptier than it actually was since most of the diners were occupying booths to the side. And noise from the bar, well placed at the front of the building, was no problem.
A dish of homemade corn and bran muffins was brought to us right away. All the breads and desserts, the waitress said, are baked on the premises.
My mixed salad also was served immediately. It was delicious -- greens that were crisp and fresh in a slightly sweet, herbed vinaigrette dressing.
Unfortunately, the prompt service ended there. We had about a 20 minute wait for the main course, and by the time it arrived, the children were past being restless.
Puff's menu is basic rather than adventurous.The emphasis is on beef -- steak to be exact, with six varieties heading the menu, from porterhouse at $11.95 to chopped sirloin at $5.95. Some seafood is listed, such as rainbow trout, $7.25, and scampi, $7.95, as well as two kinds of veal, $7.95 and $8.95, and spaghetti with meat sauce, $5.50.
Salad, potatoes and rolls accompany each entry, and there are several side orders of vegetables, among them sauteed mushrooms, $1.75.
I originally ordered braised short ribs of beef, $6.95, which were unavailable that evening, so I switched to veal cordon bleu, $8.95.
The veal, in the shape of a large, thick square, was folded over slices of ham and cheese and covered with a wine and mushroom sauce. The cheese had melted to a thin consistence so that it oozed out when the veal was cut. With the veal came a dish of unremarkable potatoes garnished with parsley.
The children's menu lists a hamburger platter for $2.80, spaghetti for $2.50, fried chicken for $2.80 and fried shrimp for $3.50. The price includes french fries, ice cream and milk or soda.
There is no charge for children under six.
Portions of the children's spaghetti are adult-sized. The pasta is in a tasty, child-like sauce and is cut into small pieces to make it easier for a child to handle.
The chicken is the very crispy kind, the outside fried to a hard crust. Two pieces make up the child's portion, served with a mound of thin, light french fries.
Deserts are well worth waiting for. One selection, Puff's Surprise, varies from night to night as does the price, and may be carrot cake or custard pie that is feather light and not too sweet. Other desserts are chocolate cake with caramel icing and World's Best Cheesecake, both $1.50. A creamy concoction called Grandma's Orange Pie, also $1.50, is made from an old family recipe, we were told.
Wine is available for $1 a glass or $4.75 a carafe.
Dinner for three of us, including colas and coffee but not including tax and tip, came to $14.95 after the 20 percent discount on food since we had dined during the Early Bird Special hours.