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
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