THE American Cookery is taking so many forms that nowadays the only thing you can predict is surprise. In Washington those American surprises are found in such restaurants as the American Cafe, Chaucer's, Clyde's, Foggy Bottom Cafe, Hilda's, The Inn at Little Washington, Linda's, Nora's, Portner's, Suzanne's, Tabard Inn, 209 1/2, West End Cafe. Here are samples from menus around the country:

Blue Strawbery, Portsmouth, N.H.: Collard greens vichyssoise, veal topped with pumpkin souffle', beet greens pesto.

Brennan's of Houston: Shrimp on trois pastas; crawfish salad on collard and mustard greens; lamb in crust with spinach, creole mustard and chopped pecans.

Charmer's Market, Santa Monica, Calif.: Hot barbecued duck salad, sea bass with cilantro, scallops with raspberry sauce.

Commander's Palace, New Orleans: Bread pudding souffle'.

Hubert's, New York City: Brains with rhubarb butter, squid with raspberry vinaigrette.

K-Paul's, New Orleans: Roast pork with oyster dressing and fig gravy, sweet potato pecan pie.

Michael's, Santa Monica: Salad of lobster, grilled Maui onions, radicchio, red leaf lettuce, baby Kentucky beans, roasted red peppers, chives and blood oranges with sherry vinegar and olive oil on a bed of deep-fried potatoes.

Patout's, New Iberia, La.: Redfish Eugenie in scallions and white wine with crawfish, crawfish Yvonne, homemade bread with homemade herb butter, crawfish steamed with Tabasco mash.

La Petite Chaya, Los Angeles: Tartar steak with taro root sauce, salad of shellfish with vegetable blossoms in champagne dressing, sashimi salad with mustard vinaigrette.

Quilted Giraffe, New York City: Beluga caviar beggar's purses, strudel of crabmeat and scallops, steamed salmon with fresh mint, poached halibut with mussels and mustard, pheasant saute'ed in hot salt, hot fudge sundae with halvah.

Rhode Island Inn, Johnston, R.I. (facility of Johnson & Wales College): Clams with hazelnuts, cream and bacon, scallops with ginger lime sauce.

Richard Perry, St. Louis: Strawberry shrimp, duck with date sauce, corned beef hash.

River Cafe, Brooklyn: Pheasant with Oregon white truffles, terrine of America's three smoked fishes, veal with beef jerky sauce, sweet potato salad.

Santa Fe Bar & Grill, Berkeley, Calif.: Black bean cakes saute'ed in duck fat.

Spago, Los Angeles: Pork chops with cranberries.

La Toque, Los Angeles: At dinner the menu is in French: "sashimi and sunomono du jour" served with chopsticks; roesti potatoes with golden caviar; persimmon pudding. At lunch the menu is in English, and includes calzone with buffalo mozzarella, duck and herbs.

The Trellis, Williamsburg, Va.: Black bean cakes with tequila and horseradish sauce, trout with rhubarb, pork with grapefruit and mint, pastas flavored with sorrel, lemon or red bell peppers.

Trumps, Los Angeles: Cold lobster pesto, plantains and caviar, fried cornmeal cakes with chicken and clams, double crispy finger duck with vanilla and sassafras, saute'ed chicken with roast garlic and candy lemon.