6238 Old Dominion Dr., McLean

237-0396 Hours: Lunch, 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; dinner, 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5 to 11 p.m. Friday, 3 to 11 p.m. Saturday, 3 to 10 p.m. Sunday; brunch, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Prices: Lunch appetizers and soups $1.60 to $4.95, entrees $3.95 to $7.95; dinner appetizers, soups and salads $1.60 to $5.95; burgers and entrees $5.25 to $13.50. Cards: Visa, MasterCard, American Express. Separate nonsmoking section.

When Dale Pedevillano bought Quincy's in the Chesterbrook shopping center last year, he made very few changes, in an effort to keep its regular customers. After six months, Pedevillano renamed the restaurant B.J. Pippins, taking the initials of his 5-year-old daughter, Brooke Jill, and pairing them with the name of a favorite but defunct French restaurant, Pippins, in Hamden, Conn.

During the past year, the old menu has been gradually expanded by about a dozen items, and, although the food is not without some faults, it is usually good, and in some cases quite good.

High on my list are the crab cakes, some of the best I've tasted. Priced according to the market, recently $12.95 for two large, plump patties, they are lightly bound with mayonnaise sparked with dijon mustard and speckled with capers. Usually fried, but also available broiled, they are served with dijon mustard on the side, coleslaw and steamed vegetables.

Most of the menu is composed of familiar fare, such as the sweet onion rings sheathed in a lacey batter or the flavorful, finely breaded chicken fingers with a honey mustard dip.

A vegetable special of fried eggplant rounds with a marinara sauce dip was a winner, but the barbecued shrimp tasted tired despite a fruity, zesty sauce.

For light meals there are salads, sandwiches and soups such as a tasty New England-style chowder, dotted with tender clams and potatoes. Also quite satisfying are the chili, with a moderately spicy kick, and the nine-ounce burger on a toasted roll, although mine arrived overdone. A disappointment was a bland, watery split pea soup.

In addition to the crab cakes, two entrees were well-executed: the chicken cordon Verdi, a boneless chicken breast wrapped around layers of spinach, ham and cheese, and the veal Sonoma, sauteed medallions of tender veal topped with diced fresh tomatoes and avocado slices, all bathed in a rich cream sauce.

A couple of entrees, however, suffered from off flavors. Even a sweet and spicy barbecue sauce couldn't mask the strong pork taste of the ribs, and the mussels in the otherwise acceptable seafood fettuccine had all the subtlety of old sweat socks.

There are many rich desserts to choose from, such as the delicious moist midnight layer cake or the fudgy derby pie (skip the salty crust). The creamy, frozen-style cheesecake was less to my liking.

The service staff varied from smooth and well-practiced to awkward and recently recruited. Regardless of which type you get, the time lag between courses is likely to be longer than you'd like.

Nightly between 5 and 7, there are three early-dinner specials for $9.95 as well as a special lobster dinner on Saturdays.

In the cozy pub room off the main entrance, entertainment is offered on Friday and Saturday nights.

B.J. Pippins is trying hard to be a dependable, all-purpose restaurant and neighborhood gathering place. Despite a few missteps, it is headed in the right direction.