3050 K St. NW (at Washington Harbour) 333-3080 Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. Closed Monday. Prices: Breakfast and entree items $1.25 to $5.95, pastries and ice cream $1.50 to $4.25. Cards: None accepted.

Now I know where to bring my mother when she comes to town, or my sister or my aunt.

Cafe Rose is not only one of the prettiest little tea rooms around, it is also one of the most feminine.

That's not to say that men won't appreciate the soft colors, the handsome woodwork, the plush seating, the welcoming German lieder -- or some of the food for that matter, which is served in dainty portions on fine English bone china.

But it's nice to know that when the occasion calls for it, there's a dining equivalent to the likes of Mel's and Duke's and Joe & Mo's for women.

The interior is a small and intimate space, flanked by a long pastry case along one side, and windows overlooking an outdoor patio on the other.

From floor to ceiling, no detail has been overlooked in making this a most genteel place to sip and nibble.

The shiny marble-and-wood floors are covered with thick, rose-colored carpets, the wide chairs are upholstered in satiny fabrics, the paintings are gilt-trimmed and the lighting is by way of chandeliers and sconces.

The place gleams and soothes at the same time.

Although service tends to be a bit slow at times, it is not enough to detract from such serenity.

What Cafe Rose offers in addition to beautiful environs is an extensive listing of pastries and a small selection of light entrees, which the menu refers to as "snacks."

The best of these minimeals are not unlike those found in the ubiquitous konditories of Germany and Austria -- the "German Potato Salad Rose" ($5.95) was a comforting plate of lightly bound, fresh-tasting diced potatoes, spiked with pickles and two juicy frankfurters.

And the combination platter ($4.75) -- a selection of cold cuts served open face on bread -- is appealing and varied, if simple.

For breakfast, which is served throughout the day, there is the very Swiss birchermuesli ($3.50), a cereal of fruits, nuts, yogurt and grains, which could be washed down with freshly squeezed orange or grapefruit juice.

Still, I wish management would lavish as much attention on the execution of the food as it has on the dining room.

For starters, the shrimp salad ($5.50) is an overstatement -- what we got was just a handful of pink shrimp atop a piece of white bread, slathered liberally with butter and served with cocktail sauce.

And the quiche ($4.25) suffered from a soggy crust and a filling that included spears of canned asparagus.

The prettily garnished canapes ($1.25 each) range in quality from good (a fine tuna fish) to dull (again, canned asparagus spears were the culprit).

In all, it is pretty, ordinary-tasting food presented in a refined setting -- sort of like eating franks and beans in the formality of the White House dining room.

Desserts, too, often appeal more to the eye than the tongue, judging from the fruit tarts (glorious fresh fruit gracing merely adequate pastry), a piece of slick-tasting white chocolate cake and a fair slice of sacher torte.

Splurge instead on Cafe Rose's dark and aromatic house coffee and its housemade ice creams.

Among the more unusual flavors are a smooth, almond-rich marzipan, and a delicate, vanilla-perfumed champagne ice cream -- a tablemate swore she could taste the bubbles going down.

On the other hand, the kitchen missed with its granular and icy mocha ice cream.

Smoking is verboten at Cafe Rose, which I learned after a neighboring table lit up and the chef/owner rushed from behind the pastry case to snuff out the fumes.

He graciously explained that it would be a shame to sully the tiny room and his pastries with cigarette smoke -- and besides, added the host, he wanted his guests to "live long lives."

It was a diplomatic resolution to an increasingly sticky problem.

Given its charm, I'd be inclined to visit Cafe Rose in spite of its menu.

Beauty and price are clearly its chief advantages -- and if you choose carefully, the menu, too, can satisfy if not quite delight.Tom Sietsema is on the staff of The Washington Post Food section.