Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Special breakfast buffet on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dinner on Sunday from 2 to 10 p.m.
Atmosphere: Informal elegance.
Price range: $5.95 to $10.95.
Reservations: Not usually needed.
Credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, American Express.
Special facilities: Plenty of free parking; wheelchair access; booster seats.
Finding Hershey's is half the battle.
It is located on a dark and winding side street in Washington Grove just outside Gaithersburg and there are no street lights or signs to guide the way. Drivers have to take on faith that if they follow directions carefully, Hershey's indeed will appear.
The restaurant is in an old, large building, part of which used to be the town post office. The first floor is divided into several small, intimate dining rooms with extra-large booths and tables to accommodate parties of any size.
The lighting is low, there are a few attractive pictures and mirrors for decoration and the atmosphere is elegant enough to make one feel that he or she is dining out in style. Hershey's is informal enough, however, so that the children, after the first few minutes, don't feel intimidated.
On Sundays the restaurant offers an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. for $4.50 for adults and $2.25 for children.
We started our dinner with soup. The French onion soup arrived steaming hot in a crockery bowl liberally covered with melted Swiss cheese and accompanied by two huge wedges of French bread ($1.95).
The New England-style clam chowder ($1.50) was creamy and rich. The minestrone ($1.25) was full of vegetables and large chunks of tender beef and was "better than homemade," according to my daughters.
The basket of rolls the waitress finally thought to bring us midway through the meal contained rolls so light, so airy, that they might have been popovers. Our waitress was inexperienced--she never brought water or the extra napkins that we requested and cleared away only half the used plates--but she smiled a lot and really did seem to be trying.
My husband selected the scallop dinner. The scallops were sauteed in an herb-garlic sauce and accompanied by a large baked potato and an iceberg lettuce salad ($8.95). A generous helping of sour cream and chives came with the potato.
Steaks are a specialty at Hershey's. I selected the queen-size rib ($8.95), which was described as being for those "with less than a hearty appetite." It turned out to be an 8-ounce, charcoal-broiled steak done to perfection, pink on the inside and lightly charred on the outside.
One of my daughters had the fried chicken ($5.95), which was very lightly breaded with a delicately seasoned topping. My other daughter had crab cakes ($9.95), which were full of crab instead of filling and were spicy but not fishy tasting.
For dessert there was a choice of homemade cobblers, cheesecake or hot fudge sundaes.
The cobblers were exceptional: hot and chock-full of fresh fruit (apples and peaches), nuts, coconut and rolled pieces of soft dough. The prices ranged from $1.25 to $1.60, depending upon whether they were served with or without ice cream.