Atmosphere: Big and bland. Hours: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. every day of the week. Price Range: $3.15 for children's entrees; $6.50 to $9.75 for adults. Reservations: Not usually necessary. Credit Cards: All major. Special Facilities: Not easily accessible by wheelchair; booster seats and high chairs available; children's menu; free parking in Holiday Inn parking lot.

Come Spring, it is pleasant to stroll the grounds of Catholic University, enjoy the rolling green lawns and hills of the campus, admire the symmetry and stature of the architecture and watch the harried students scurry along Michigan Avenue and Harewood Drive.

Should you get hungry or wonder where all these students go when they want a noninstitutional bite to eat, you'll find yourself looking around in vain for the obvious campus hideout. The University is surrounded by neat-as-a-pin residential areas and despite the proximity of Washington Hospital Center and Children's Hospital, there is no sign that commercial developers are swarming in to meet the needs of area residents or of a hungry work and student force.

The popular place to go -- popular in good measure because it's there -- is the Hideway in the Holiday Inn, which is near the Brookmont Metro station. t

When our family paid the Hideaway a visit on a recent Saturday evening at 6:30, we found the lounge, a separate room off the main dining room, smoky, crowded and buzzing with a low-key crowd. The large dining room -- it seats 193 -- was doing much slower business. The diners there were mainly families with several children in tow.

One glance at the menu made it clear the Hideaway/Holiday Inn knew how to reach the hearts, minds and pocketbooks of parents. One-fourth of the menu was devoted to children's selections. For $3.15, children can choose either chopped sirloin, hot roast beef, fried chicken or fish and get a salad, potatoes, vegetable and roll with it.

Our daughter, 13, decided a children's fried chicken dinner would suit her if she could add a French onion soup, $1, to her order. In terms of having enough to eat, the onion soup was not necessary.

The children's plate of fried chicken came with two large pieces (no wings or drumsticks) of nicely crisp, neatly fried chicken, a bowl of salad, a baked potato and ham-flavored green beans. The chicken had been well prepared -- the meat was succulent and moist -- but the green beans were in dire need of seasoning. The baked potato also was well prepared -- it didn't have that ubiquitous layer of tin foil around it.

The onion soup, which I also ordered, came in a large crock and was topped with a thick, well-baked layer of cheese. The soup itself was chock full of onions and bread. All it needed to become palatable was a heavy hand on the salt shaker.

My husband, who had hoped to start off the meal with fresh fruit, was out of luck. Although the menu listed fruit cocktail and melon, these were not available that night. He settled for a shrimp cocktail, $3.50, and found it quite adequate. It came with six shrimp, which were fresh, albeit thin, and a decent cocktail sauce for dipping.

All of our dinners came with salads, which appeared in brown plastic bowls. The iceberg lettuce was topped by thin rounds of green pepper and onion. The dressings, however, did not distinguish themselves.

Since the menu announced special handling of and great pride in Hideaway's meats, my husband ordered grilled pork chops, $6.95. He was pleasantly surprised. They were beautifully grilled, juicy and tender. He had applesauce and the ham-flavored green beans with them.

I by-passed the several varieties of steaks (filet, $9.75; New York strip, $9.25; kabobs, $7.95) and the Saturday night special of London broil, $7.25, (there is a different special for each night of the week) and ordered a special not listed on the menu. Our waiter had told us deviled crab, $8.95, was available that evening. Like the onion soup and green beans, it needed seasoning, but was otherwise an adequate dish of crab shells stuffed with crab meat and then deep fried.

We finished our dinner by sharing a piece of cherry pie, 90 cents, which had more cherries than cherry goo.

The tab for our dinner for three, which included a glass of wine, cup of coffee, three dinners and tax, came to $23.90. Our daughter's $3.15 children's plate certainly helped keep the price for dinner reasonable. That's one of the big attractions of a place like the Hideaway, which knows how to make it easy for a family to dine there.