6238 Old Dominion Dr., McLean


Hours: Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Dinner 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Sunday brunch 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Prices: Lunch sandwiches and entrees $5.95 to $10.95. Dinner soups and appetizers $3.50 to $6.50, entrees $10.95 to $18.95.

Credit Cards: Visa, MasterCard, American Express.

Nonsmoking section available.

Although one of Stella's owners described the cooking here as "New American," a fair part of the menu reminds me of the 1950s: liver and onions, "char-grilled" New York strip steak, crab cakes and roast duckling.

To be sure, there are contemporary touches: The crab cakes are served with a red pepper rouille, and the duck comes with a sauce of fresh mangoes and green peppercorns.

And still, hints of a bygone era were in evidence during a recent Sunday brunch when a steady stream of Frank Sinatra classics accompanied the equally classic eggs Benedict.

The restaurant has three rooms, including a small pub at the front where piano and other music is performed most nights, and a high-ceilinged back room, a soothing setting for a Sunday brunch where sun pours through a trellis-covered skylight.

The brunch menu is simple, short, but generally well executed. Eggs Benedict, scrambled eggs, or an omelette with mild lox, cream cheese and onions would all be worth ordering again, accompanied by delicious fried red potato wedges.

The only disappointment was the eggs and sirloin steak combo ($11.95). The steak was about as tender as your average football.

As for the dinner menu, there are some good choices among the appetizers, such as the cilantro-infused chicken fritters and a full-bodied, creamy mushroom soup.

Although there are no superstars among the entrees, some dishes enjoy modest success, such as the thin sheets of breaded and fried pork schnitzel punctuated by a dab of chutney-like apple compote ($12.95).

The roasted duck, with rosy fanned breast slices and a juicy, flavorful drumstick, was quite good when it hadn't absorbed too much of the vinegar-laden mango and green peppercorn sauce.

The best of the rest of the entrees I sampled was a grilled eggplant roulade filled with a mixture of cottage cheese, boucheron and Parmesan.

Less appealing was the crab cake, which had too much mayonnaise and too little seasoning for my taste. The fettuccine with scallops was not only in need of more seasoning, but more scallops too.

For the finale, there are several cakes that are passable, but I'd prefer to end the meal with a capuccino or espresso.