Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Sunday.
Atmosphere: True to its name.
Price range: Entrees $5.25 to $11.50; most in $6 range. Light meals from $3.95.
Credit Cards: Major.
Special features: Valet parking in evening; one flight up; booster seat; rooms available for private parties.
The Fox's Den sits inconspicuously just a few doors from busy Wisconsin Avenue. You almost have to be looking for its awning to notice its modest announcement. But pay attention. Finding such a hideaway is just what our palates and wallets need.
For more than eight years the restaurant has occupied its second-story location. Inside, a sun-filled room affords a reflective view on the city's events. The tabletops are plastic-coated, decorated with eternal springtime flowers.
You need to remind yourself that you are city-bound; otherwise you might believe you are in the midst of hunt country. The chase motif is everywhere in the pleasant, Tiffany-lamped rooms.
Several people were waiting when we arrived, and we filed into line. I wondered why I had made a reservation and stopped the owner when he passed by.
His response: "Why didn't you tell me? Follow."
Just catching his eye was difficult but worth the effort. We were led to a rear booth, with an old-fashioned "Reserved" card.
Waiting is always unpleasant, especially when freshly scrubbed, tired soccer players are involved. Yes, parents, Fox's Den has the polished look of neighborhood comfort where children will be well-received if they remember to leave their mud-soaked wardrobe at home.
We were immediately charmed by the waiter's attention and his advice on the myriad of choices. Ordering appetizers is unnecessary; all meals come complete with salad bar and two vegetables.
Although the salad bar is not large, it includes all the basic choices. Iceberg is the only lettuce offered, but the other ingredients more than make up for this. Cottage cheese and corn alternate with beans, beets and first-rate croutons.
In many respects, Fox's Den offers features other restaurants often neglect: little touches like a salad bar, a hot loaf of fresh bread, fresh vegetables and large portions.
Most important, the owner is constantly surveying the room and helping the staff. Little seems to go unnoticed. He epitomizes the old restaurant maxim that owning a restaurant is a full-time occupation.
Service is efficient, but not rushed. There's time for dinner, conversation and salad refills.
Although there is no children's menu, there are burgers and omelets that meet size and budget considerations. The large hamburger ($3.95) was a perfect medium and accompanied by respectable french fries.
From the list of daily specials, my 7-year-old chose the filet of flounder ($5.95): two large pieces of perfectly cleaned and broiled fish.
Likewise, I did well with the delightfully tasty chicken livers ($5.25), marinated and sauteed with a lemon-oregano seasoning.
But the green beans fared poorly. Half the bowl was quickly steamed, while the other was dull, mushy and overcooked--no match for the perfectly timed baked potato.
We could have ordered desserts, but when we discovered none were made on the premises, we decided they were unnecessary. The children would have needed little arm-twisting to order a parfait but were just as happy with a scoop of mints when they left.
What a discovery: a Chevy Chase address, 1960s prices and attention to detail that has been forgotten in many other establishments. Our $22.17 bill for three, including tax and tip, proved the Fox's Den was the perfect hideaway for our outing.