Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Closed Monday.
Price Range: Appetizers, $3 to $4. Platters, $6 to $12.
Atmosphere: Congenial. Service attentive.
Special Facilities: Booster chairs and high-chairs; plenty of parking in front. Good children's menu. Service will be attentive to handicapped.
Credit Cards: None.
Reservations: Not accepted.
Until the New Deal and World War II changed everything, Washington was something of a sleepy Southern town.
As for restaurants, there were always good places to eat. But they weren't of the sophisticated, cosmopolitan and exotic ethnic varieties we have now, which are products of the '60s and '70s.
Back in the earlier years, good places to eat were fewer, simpler, more personalized. Their food often reflected the rural origins of their cooks.
Mass transportation hadn't made most foods available everywhere. Seafood fished along the mid-Atlantic coast down past the Tidewater area was a local delicacy.
That's when Kushner's Seafood Restaurant got started, about 40 years ago.
First came a location on Georgia Avenue, which has long since closed. Later the "new place" in Takoma Park opened about 1950, for the family's daughter and son-in-law to manage.
When my family went to Kushner's we always ordered the same thing. First, the clam-soup; then, Mrs. Kushner's "chicken-fried shrimp," which she claimed to have invented by accident one day when some shrimp fell into the pot that was deep frying chicken. And we always ate crab imperial, the specialty of the house.
It had been a long while since we had eaten at Kushner's as a family. Recently, we went back, this time with grandchildren in tow.
We were not disappointed.
The place hasn't changed since I was young. It's still got that 1950s look -- light-hued formica-and-chrome tables, bright overhead lightening in a recessed ceiling that was innovative at one time, and authentic knotty pine plank paneling that the decades have turned a rich, resinous red.
It is not perfectly spiffy at all, but the good materials of earlier years have stood the test of time well.
Still hanging from the paneling are the large stuffed fish trophies, some three and four feet long, that fascinated me as a child.
We learned that the Kushner family sold out seven years ago. Our waitress said, "Mrs. Kushner stopped by just yesterday to chat." The present owners have retained the staff and most of the menu. And they have kept prices well in line by today's standards.
Our waitress ("been here 28 years, honey," she said) immediately brought us an old Kushner trandmark -- delicious rum buns, sticky and raisin-studed, and still made fresh every few days on the premises.
She followed this with a plate of a half-dozen whole sour pickles.
With this sweet and sour counterpoint to munch on, and recalling the generous-sized entrees of the past, we didn't order appetizers.
While waiting for dinner, which came promptly, we surveyed our table: fresh-made tartar sauce, which bears no relation to the standard processed variety; and, for seafood aficionados, a container of white grated horseradish next to a bottle of Tabasco sauce.
My parents fondly recalled the Kushner family. They got to know regular customers. Washington's old-time families, on a personal basis.
Mr. Kushner had been a prizefighter in his youth during the '20s, and his cauliflower ears were distinctive mementoes of that time.
My father's broiled fresh shad ($9) was a large, deliciously succulent piece of a fish available along the mid-Atlantic coast during only a few months of the year.
My husband's fresh flounder stuffed with crabmeat ($8.30) was a nice-sized whole fish, perfectly broiled, with lots of backfin crab inside.
My mother's crab imperial was "just as good as it used to be," she said. It was a round casserole, with a lot of crab and so little mayonnaise for binding (and no bread crumb filler) that the pure sweet flavor of the crab came through.
My combination platter of fried crab cake, several jumbo shrimp, half a dozen scallops, filet of fish and large selected oyster's was a lot of food for $7.85. It was lightly breaded and crisp.
A third of it went home in a doggy bag obligingly provided by the waitress.
All orders came with potatoes (baked or french fried) and a choice of vegetable. The best was cole slaw, made on the premises, a good accompaniment to seafood.
The children's menu lists five choices, each $3.25: chopped sirloin, fried chicken, haddock, shrimp or crab cake. Each comes with applesauce and french fries. The shrimp and haddock platters were devoured.
Other tables had broiled lobsters that looked large and lovely. They cost $11.25; if stuffed with crabmeat, $13.75. Many other crab, shrimp and lobster dishes are available, as well as trout, rockfish and halibut in season.
Desserts are two that especially suit family dinners: frozen eclair or ice cream, each topped with lots of hot fudge sauce. Each costs $1.15.
As we left, we agreed that time had changed most things, but not the authenticity of good food, attentive old-time service and comfortable atmosphere of Kushner's.