Rimsky-Korsakoffee House

24 02 2013

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It’s no secret that the Pacific Northwest is known for great coffee and a variety of coffee shops to suit any taste. These popular shops are popping up inside buildings, on street corners, along rural roads, and in strip malls. Over three decades ago, Portland artist Goody Cable had the foresight to purchase an early 1900s Victorian house from its original owners and turn it into one of Portland’s first coffee shops called Rimsky-Korsakoffee House. Rimsky’s, as locals call it, is named after the Russian composer Nikolai Andreievich Rimsky-Korsakoff (or Korsakov) who lived 1844-1908.

Fitting to its name, Rimsky’s offers live classical music in a classical music-themed house. Before you picture white tablecloths and tuxedos—wait, that’s far from the décor to which I am referring. It’s a mix of the fictional Satis House and the Hollywood Tower Hotel. Imagine gold busts of Beethoven, trinkets hanging from the ceiling, and glass-topped tables displaying an eclectic mix of information paying homage to a classic composer or the previously seated guest. Yes, you are welcome to leave your own calling card under the glass if you’re so bold. Speaking of tables, you are asked to seat yourself, which might land you at one that vibrates, slowly moves up and down, rotates inconspicuously, or slightly disappears into the wall. You also may peruse the bookshelves and take reading material to your table such as books full of former patrons’ sketches, notes and poetry, and even add your own mark.

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Besides the variety of espresso drinks and teas, Rimsky’s offers a mix of ice cream sundaes and unique desserts. I, admitted chocoholic, indulged in the Chocolate Pot de Crème, a dark chocolate mousse topped with whipped cream. It truly was a perfect complement to my coffee, but I kept dipping my spoon into my daughter’s dessert. What dessert could actually turn my attention away from dark chocolate mousse? Chocolate Raspberry Fool could! This temptation offered Chocolate Pot de Crème as the bottom layer, topped with whipped raspberry mousse, and finished with raspberries and dark chocolate chunks. Did you hear the crescendo? Once you’ve had plenty to sip, take a trip to the restroom. I know, weird suggestion, but it’s part of the Rimsky’s experience. The dangling-from-the dock legs were not what surprised me—and I don’t often get surprised. I’ll leave it at that.

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I’ve visited Rimsky’s on early, quiet weeknights. I hear later evenings, especially on weekends, gets quite crowded so expect a wait and slower service. Also, payment is cash only. Rimsky-Korsakoffee House is located in inner southeast Portland in the Buckman neighborhood, 707 SE 12th Avenue, Portland. It’s open Monday-Thursday and Sunday from 7 p.m.-12 a.m., and Friday-Saturday from 7 p.m.-1 a.m., or call (503) 232-2640 for more information.

Goody Cable also established a bed & breakfast in Newport, Oregon called the Sylvia Beach Hotel with author-themed rooms. My friend recommended it and recently gave me a brochure. I hope to go someday and report back!

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