Posted by Tim Carman

The Dish: coq au vin de Bourgogne

The Location: Bistro Français, 3124-8 M St. NW, (202) 338-3830

The Price: $13.95 on the lunch menu

The Skinny: Forget shopping. One of the most exhausting exercises in Georgetown is walking from restaurant to restaurant to restaurant, pressing your nose against the glass-encased menus, and taking a leap of faith that the food inside tastes half as appetizing as the description. Too many times in this haute ’hood you walk away from the table disappointed, not to mention down a Jackson or two. When I’m hot and hungry in Georgetown, I don’t like to mess around. I head straight to Bistro Français, Gerard Cabrol‘s institution on M Street NW where local chefs love to nosh after their kitchens close. BF’s coq au vin looks simple enough sitting in its shallow white bowl, luxuriating in a pool of deep-mahogany-red sauce, but that little bird has been put through the paces before it reaches your table. It’s the painstaking preparation that separates the real thing from all the coq au faux out there. The chicken pieces themselves can be underseasoned, but once they’re coated in the rich, herbal, and Burgundy-saturated sauce, their bland meatiness is instantly transformed into a savory complexity that dares you to ID all the flavors. This winy bird is so good I will often ignore Bistro Français’ well-regarded three-course-lunch specials to order it.