Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Friday; 2 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday; 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday.

Price Range: Entrees at dinner from $3.25 to $6.50; meals are a la carte.

Atmosphere: Small dining room sparingly decorated with Indian crafts; pleasant but slow service; mostly authetic Indian cooking.

Credit Cards: Master Charge, VISA, Diners Club, American Express, Carte Blanche.

Reservations: Necessary for groups of more than eight.

Special Facilities: Accessible by wheelchair; on-street parking at lunch; parking lot at dinner; two blocks from Clarendon Metro stop; highchairs; no children's menu but children may share meals.

As a District resident and member of a family devoted to eating out, I confess that until lately we have seldombeen lured to Northern Virginia in search of a good meal.

There is an unfortunate tendency among some folks on the north side of the Potomac to view Northern Virginia as a place to go when you catch a plane. Or as territory to be quickly traversed on the way to Charlottesville.

The truth is that we are intimidated by Northern Virginia. We can't sort out Fairlington, Parkington and Shirlington. We wind up at Seven Corners when we meant to go to Tysons'. An invitation from friends is accepted only if it's accompanied by a map and a compass.

Thus, our knowledge of where to eat in Northern Virgina runs to airport snack bars and a couple of country inns that are patronized mainly by those who possess radar equipment.

But it was a traffic tie-up on Wilson Boulevard that finally opened my eyes to the culinary possibilities in the area. After completing a compulsory, bi-annual errand on a dismal commerical stretch of Wilson Boulevard, I started back to Key Bridge in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

With plenty of time to check out the lanadscape, I realized that stuck among the auto parts supplies, the finance corporations and the discount rug dealers were lots of tiny storefront restaurants of many persuasions.

Now perhaps this discovery is not news to you, but I was delighted to find another area to eat my way through. It wasn't long before our family made a return trip to try the Bombay Curry House.

The fare in this modest little restaruant is ambitious, interesting and strictly Asian. The management will tame some of its spicier dishes for American tastes but you'll find no Bonbay burgers or Punjab pizza here.

Our family plus a friend were quickly seated and supplied with menus and drinks. That was the beginning and the end of the evening's prompt service. The kitchen was painfully slow in getting our orders and one lone waiter tended the entire dinning room began with appetizers of pakora and tikki.

Tikki is an Indian version of a potato pancake but very hot and galicky. The grudging approval it received from our two daughters can be considered wild acclaim since the girls, now in the bloom of adolescence, go to some lengths to conceal their enthusiam for food or anything else.

The two types of pakora, eggplant or Indian cream chees dipped in a dense, tasteless batter of pureed chick peas and then fried, was less successful.

The kitchen got high marks overall for its attempt to offer a large and original variety of meat and vegetarian dishes, even if the execution wasn't always perfect.

The marinated lamb or beef chunks simmered with spinach and cream had a wonderfully kicky flavor, although the meat suffered somewhat from overcooking. At $6.50, these were the most expensive items on the menu.

My husband passed up the fish to have lamb curry, and adequate rendering of this old favorite but less interesting than other dishes at the Bombay Curry House. For example, the tandoori murgh is chicken bathed in a sauce of wine, spices and yogurt, and barbecued.It's good for kids since it's still recognizable as chicken and has a mild flavor.

The curried shrimp is another winner, although the version we had was toned down at the request of our youngest daughter.

We didn't get to the vegetarian column which had its share of curiosities, combinations like cabbage with coconut and peas, or spinach with cream cheese and fenugreek leaves.

Several lentil and chick pea dishes were included since Indian cooking depends heavily upon legumes. (Fenugreek, for instance, is an herb in the legume family). Bombay Curry House even serves a crispy, fried lentil bread that is nicely seasoned and good with wine or beer.

The only dessert offered was a small round cake, similar to a hush puppie, that was deep-fried and covered with syrup. They do a similar trick with cheese balls according to the menu.

Our bill for three adults and two children was $53.27, including tip, a small price to pay for freeing us from the airport lunch counter.