25 July 2012

Amber Dhara plants tree for opening

Amber Dhara has arrived. After near a year of construction and 4 months behind a construction wall of artistic graffiti, the Indian seafood, small bites restaurant has signs posting that it is open. Well at least that's what the signs say. The good news is that a space that was closed for over a decade (if not decades) is open. The bad news is that this is yet another restaurant - when will restaurant saturation arrive. If it's anything like the point of cafe saturation on Valencia, we still have room for more restaurants. The other good news is a new was planted.
New tree replacing pre-2010 tree. Note new restaurant signage.
Slalom tree effect on Valencia. Street widening tree with special "Muertos" grates (foreground right), new tree in the background (left).
Firstly, on a landscaping/sidewalk note, one of the pre-sidewalk widening trees died soon after construction of Valencia finished in 2010. The tree and it's "well" were located next to the original curb, but after widening the tree well is about 3 to 5 feet from the new curb. Although the tree was cut down, a hard packed dirt tree well remained. We hoped during that time that either the city or the restaurant owner would plant a new tree – plant it in a new tree well in line with all the new trees right next to the new curb. Luckily, a new tree was planted. However, and unfortunately, the tree well location was not moved so the tree slalom along Valencia continues.

Amber Dhara dining space. Note upstairs dining space. Right back at you, Dosa Filmore!

According to Inside Scoop SF, it is the largest on Valencia Street. With 275 seats in 6,000 square feet on two levels, they'll need lots of customers. Luckily the place looks very attractive, and with entrees ranging from $14 to $19, Amber Dhara is the middle of the price spectrum. Much lower than Range and Farina (or Farina Pizza in all likelihood), but higher than the taquerias and Ali Baba's Cave.

More photos and summary after the break.

18 July 2012

FARINA Pizza & Cucina Italiana UNVEILED!

It's hard to believe but Farina Pizza is very nearly ready for showtime. Today we notices the construction wall (fencing? advertising billboard that's periodically painted over?) was pulled down. And behold we finally get a look at what this long awaited pizzeria will look like.

The restaurant was confirmed to be a Farina spinoff back in 2010 by SF Eater. More recently, the name of Farina Pizza & Cucina Italiana was announced with a projected June 2012 opening. Let's hope they're ready to open by August or September, in time for a balmy San Francisco Indian summer. If there's one thing we've learned, getting a restaurant set up takes a long time, and opening date is normally 3-12 months later than expected.

We notice the white theme of domed tiles (a la BART) goes beyond to hip backed white bar stools, and a ubiquitous white tiled theme, accented with a light faded green woodwork with natural wood accents on the tables and wine racks.

More importantly, what are all those faces on the ceiling? They almost look like illustrations of yearbook photos. Or are they some Italian or Sicilian traditional portrait illustration mosaic. We have no idea.

All we know is that we're happy this place is nearly opening day. The building began construction in early 2009, and was completed circa late 2010. Now we finally get the storefront retail, two years after the building was completed.

More history and photos after the break:

09 July 2012

Must-See San Francisco Buildings

If you had 2 or 3 days in SF, what would be the top 7 must see buildings? The new museums? Old towers? Or a washing machine inspired cathedral. Me thinks the ferries and city halls are missing.

According to the poster below, the must-see buildings listed are:
  • Coit Tower
  • The Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption
  • Federal Building San Francisco
  • Contemporary Jewish Museum
  • Frank Lloyd Wright Building
  • California Academy of Sciences
  • De Young Museum
More thoughts and lists after the break.

02 July 2012

Amos - the unorthodox SF historian

While partaking in the July 1 Sunday Streets on Valencia Street today, we stopped by Amos Goldbaum t-shirt stand selling. We've appreciated his art and t-shirt designs for years - so much we have one of his Muni Boeing Light Rail Vehicle t-shirts.
"San Francisco Muni Streetcar" by Amos Goldbaum
We noted a new t-shirt design showing the Dolores Park skyline view over San Francisco. The image includes the playground – not the new snazzy 2012 playground, but the former playground with its large boat and classing metal jungle gym with monkey bars. It suddenly dawned on us that Amos was essentially chronicling disappearing elements of San Francisco.

He has three t-shirt designs that show a piece of San Francisco that is no more:
  • Muni Metro's Boeing Light Rail Vehicles 
    • used from 1970s to early 2000s (retired ~2001)
  • Embarcadero Freeway with Ferry Building
    • Freeway opened with Broadway terminus in 1959 
    • The Washington and Clay street ramps pictured in Amos' design were added later in the 1960s. 
  • Dolores Park view of San Francisco with Playground
    • The pre-2012 playground is clearly shown with its signature wooden boat.
Goldbaum notes that in fact all three images "were made after the fact. The first one I made was the Boeing streetcar. I grew up riding these and wanted to pay homage to them." We recall riding them as well. Although they were never considered modern or advanced light rail vehicles, they did have interesting charms and idiosyncrasies.

He was inspired to make the Embarcadero Freeway/Ferry Building image after selling his art at the Ferry Building. Finally, when the old wooden boat at the Dolores Park Playground was torn out, "I decided to draw it." The new Hellen Diller Playground has received all the attention and hubbub, but some precious memories and playground equipment was lost in the process. Golbaum, who grew up in Bernal Heights, notes, "The boat was awesome! I'm glad they put in some boat accents in the new playground." To make the image with its view over the playground, park and the city skyline, he had to piece several pictures together.
Muni Metro Boeing vehicle at West Portal Staton. Photo: Mod As Hell (flickr)

"Ferry Building and Embarcadero Freeway" by Amos Goldbaum
More images after the break.