Atmosphere: Like dinner out in the home of friends: candlelit and comfortable. Leave your jeans home.

Hours: 11:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. through 9:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 5 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Sunday.

Price Range: $6.25 for mussels marinere to $14 for lobster tail or bouillabaisse. Several entrees in the $6.50 to $8.50 range.

Reservations: Not a must, but not a bad idea on a weekends.

Credit cards: American Express, Visa, Mastercharge.

Special Facilities: Easy parking in lighted lot adjacent to restaurant; accessible to patron's in wheelchairs.

I know, I know, It's that time of year. Aunt Sophie will be winning in for her annual visit, grandfather's birthday is coming up or someone is going away to college. No matter what the kids say, you don't want to go to McDonald's. If your children are beyond the stage where they scream in public, you can solve the problem happily by taking the whole caboodle off to Ocean IX.

A seafood restaurant in Silver Spring, Ocean IX is pretty located in a large brick colonial building that underwent months of renovations before opening. The result is lovely, both inside and out. Handsome blue awnings distinguish the exterior; polished wood and colonial colors create a tasteful interior that is elegant but not stuffy.

This is a tablecloth, fresh flowers and two-fork restaurant -- definitely a special-occasion place where you can take the kids, should you want to show them how it's done among the civilized.

Ocean IX advertises French and continental seafood, and its menu will please serious seafood lovers. Not only is there a variety of seafood offered, but dinners may choose either plain or fancy fish, from a simple trout with almonds to lobster thermidor -- or pick something in between, like poached salmon with hollandaise.

The menu also indicates the kitchen at Ocean IX knows what to do with fish; there are 13 different broiled-fish entrees (although some are available only seasonally). We thought this a wonder, since many suburban restaurants believe seafood must be heavily breaded and fried.

The girls disagreed. There was no fried shirmp on the menu, and they were disgruntled. They settled instead for fish and chips, "England style," $6.50, and deep-fried scallops, $8.25. Both were delicately crumbed and carefully cooked, and the french fries were a hit. End of disgruntlement.

Unfortunately, Ocean IX offers no children's menu. I was told on the phone that children could split an entree, but our two-9-year-olds consumed every crumb of the full-sized dinners they ordered. Several first courses might do for children: Shrimp cocktail, a "pot of seafood," and linguine with red or white clam sauce -- all available for around $3.50 -- and splitting an entree would work well for younger children.

But back to the broiled fish. My husband found the snapper he wanted wasn't available that night, so ordered instead a whole bluefish, $7.50, seasoned with herbs de provence, perfectly broiled and dramatically presented on an oval platter.He loved it.

I ordered scampi en Mediterranean, $8.25. Instead of the usual broiling in garlic butter, the shrimp had been delicately cooked and were served with rice and a fragrant, light tomato, garlic and herb sauce. It was delicious. All entrees come with a house salad, good French bread, potato and vegetable.

We agreed that the food of Ocean IX is very, very good, but there are two caveats. One: The dinning room needs more waiters. A leisurely group of adults might not be bothered by lags in service, but when children are ready for dessert, they are ready for dessert.

Two: Some items on the menu are not available. Before we ordered, Amy and Bridget had decided they would share a banana split, incongrously listed on the menu among the the peach melbas and creme caramels. They could not forgive the waiter for announcing there were no banana splits; in fact, of the seven desserts listed, only two were available.

We sampled mocha ice cream and black forest cake. The cake was more like a sundae -- a rich homemade chocolate cake covered with chocolate sauce, whipped cream and fresh strawberries. It was new and quite good -- which isn't a bad way to describe Ocean IX.