Forget your worries about dried-out gruesome chicken dinners. While certainly two of my most punishing diet meals were chicken, one find made chicken meals a favorite. To start at the bottom, a dinner I anticipated happily at Sholl's Cafeteria, 1433 K St. NW, turned out to be a struggle of trying to peel the firmly glued skin from a quarter of a soggy, greasy bird that must have been cooked all day. It took two portions ($1.35 each) to give me a decent skin-stripped portion. And the pile of bones it left made me feel as paranoid as some of the angry loners at nearby tables. I began to understand them. One more meal like that, and I, too, would be arguing aloud with myself. But Sholl's can be a good diet bet. It has grapefruits among its fresh fruit and serves a variety of salads, all of which are at thier best early in the day.

At Kowloon, 1105 H. St. NW, I picked steamed chicken as the least caloric meat dish. Wrong. It came after everyone else's lunch was finished and I was feeling severely punished by my need for restraint. And it consisted of hacked pieces of wing, each wrapped in skin that was hard to remove and left little but bones. A request for a plate of sliced tomatoes took two lawyers arguing with the manager, who finally agreed to serve it "as a favor." The meal was no favor, and the $7.50 chicken was the most overpriced item I found on the generally reasonable menu.

Thank goodness for the Bistro Francais, 3128 M St. NW. Not only is it one of the small handful of restaurants that lists grapefruit on its menu (which doesn't, of course, guarantee that it is available), but it makes an excellent rotisserie-roasted chicken. Dieters welcome any calorie-free choices they can get, and Bistro Francais offers a casual cafe setting or (at no extra calories or cost) a more formal and very attractive dining room. But that is about all the choices a dieter has. Roast chicken is the sinle low-calorie possility I found among the main dishes. Order it with the potatoes removed and replaced with raw spinach (on a separate plate, if possible). Otherwise, the potatoes will unduly tempt you and the spinach salad will cost $1.95. The chicken, 6.25, is half a tarragon-scented bird, a luscious little dinner. A glass of Perrier (90 cents), a cup of coffee (60 cents) and a stroll through Georgetown fill out one's contentment.