3575 Chain Bridge Rd., Fairfax 352-0675 Hours: 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday; 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. Prices: Dinner for two with appetizers, drinks and desserts costs $25 to $40, including tax and tip. Cards: Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Diners Club, Carte Blanche, Choice.

Boomerangs is a great place to visit, but you better watch what you eat here. It's a striking restaurant, built like the inside of a big circus tent. There's a vast round dining room, with a high, peaked ceiling that slopes on thick wooden timbers. The tables spread around the circumference of the floor and then up on a second level, as if on bleachers. The decor is eclectic, to say the least, with a mix of California blond wood, Victorian lampposts and Art Deco mirrors. In the very center of it all rises the main attraction, a spectacular two-story wooden dance floor made in striped woods and trimmed with strings of lights. The whole place sounds crazy and overwhelming, but somehow, the designers have pulled it off.

If only the food worked as well as the decor. Most people come here to dance (sometimes to excellent live bands) and just to hang out over snacks and drinks, not for serious, complicated dining. But for some reason, the restaurant offers an overwhelming menu filled with weighty and fairly expensive entrees, from veal with crab meat to filet mignon, from seafood Norfolk to roast prime rib -- and most of these entrees are really bad. Meats may be tough and overcooked, fish dishes may be old-tasting and inedible, sauces may be as subtle-tasting as a bottle of A1. Most of the entrees we've tried are so bad, in fact, that we won't bother analyzing them in detail; we'll just warn you to stay away from them. There are two exceptions: The half-broiled chicken, simple and crispy, is quite good, if you ask the kitchen to undercook it, which means it comes only a little overcooked. And the New York sirloin is acceptable.

The way to get the best of Boomerangs is to stick to the light stuff: the appetizers, sandwiches and omelettes. Try tried-and-true nachos (order Mexicana-style) with plenty of peppers and beans and chili beef, or fried zucchini, all crusty and hot. The snails with garlic butter are good (even though the garlic tastes powdered, not fresh). The guacamole has been disappointing. Boomerangs makes big, fat club sandwiches and good-looking salads; the hamburgers could be a lot better.

By far the best food we've eaten here are the eggs and omelettes, which raises an interesting possibility: don't think about Boomerangs just as a night place, to drink and dance, but get up on a sunny Sunday morning and visit for brunch. We took a window table one recent Sunday, and the sun streamed through and lit up the wooden rafters. The waitress was friendly, the coffee was fresh and hot, and no one seemed to mind our friend's baby as she stumbled around the floor.

And the kitchen was alive: the Eggs Benedict were excellent -- hot poached eggs that spurted when we cut them, draped with lemony hollandaise. The omelette was big and fluffy. All the dishes came with toasty little croissants and terrific salads (we recommend the mustard vinaigrette.) The fish and chopped sirloin weren't much to brag about.

The price of brunch at Boomerangs is exceedingly reasonable. You get the entree, the croissant and salad plus a big ice cream dessert (peach melba or cherries jubilee) for $6 or $7.