Charles in Charge

Charlie Palmer (finally) opens a restaurant in San Francisco

Chef Charlie Palmer swore he'd never open a restaurant in San Francisco.

Instead, the Healdsburg resident opened restaurants most everywhere else, including New York, Reno, Denver and Las Vegas–13 in all–before finally deciding San Francisco could use the progressive American food he's spent 25 years perfecting.

He's right: At the newly opened Burritt Room + Tavern in the Mystic Hotel, Palmer and chef Ashley Weaver are introducing a new generation of diners to the pleasure of classics done right.

There's nothing novel about cornmeal-crusted fried oysters ($16). But when the oysters are plump, crisp and served on refreshing fennel-apple slaw, who needs novelty?

Asparagus and eggs are an enduring springtime duo, and here they are treated right, combined in a salad of tender stalks and soft-poached egg ($14), accented by slices of rich cured salmon belly.

Even the obligatory steak is well prepared. Choose the Teres Major ($28), a tender cut from the shoulder, swiping slices through a textbook béarnaise and crunching on a piece of griddled, buttered bread that has absorbed the meat juices.

Charlie, what took you so long?

Burritt Room + Tavern, 417 Stockton St. (inside the Mystic Hotel); 415-400-0561 or burritttavern.com