Portland's Strange Places #2: Rimsky-Korsakoffee House
Much like Seattle, Portland is well-known for its coffee scene. In fact, it seems Portland is all about imbibing...craft beer, custom roasted-coffee and fabulous wines. Yet it's just coffee I'm writing about today...and specifically, one particular spot where both coffee and great desserts can be had: Rimsky-Korsakoffee House. But wait? What's strange or weird about a coffee house? Well, built in 1902, this particular joint has quite a history and is rumored to be haunted. Read on...
Many say Rimsky's is “unlike any other place in Portland.” That's quite a statement with "Keep Portland Weird" being such a thing. However, this establishment does indeed stand out with its ultra-eclectic environ that sports all kinds of oddities and knickknacks throughout. From rotating, vibrating tables, to some very strange things that simply must be seen, well, getting a cup of Joe here is a far cry from Starbucks. Live classical music on the weekends adds to the experience at Rimsky's, but be sure to bring cash as credit cards are not accepted. Also, be sure to go upstairs to see the famous bathroom. Not going to spoil that secret here!
Rimsky's is named after Russian composer Nikolai Rimskey-Korsakov. Nothing strange about that, yet it does explain the name as it was used for many years as a nighttime venue for classical music events in the 1970's. Owned by Goody Cable, she reportedly converted the house into a coffee house in 1980 because she was "tired of cleaning her house for music parties." The classical music element continues, of course, to this day.
Now operating in the former living room of the supposedly haunted house, the place remains almost entirely hidden from view due to advanced foliage. That alone gives it a creepy feel, especially at night. The Oregonian's Vivian McInerny suggested in a 2006 piece that writer Louise Bryant once lived in the house and that she and her second husband, John Reed, documented parts of the Russian Revolution in her works including Six Months in Red Russia.
According to Goody Cable, her vision for Rimsky's was to create "an unconventional and "homelike" restaurant, attractive to conversationalists who enjoy beer, desserts and music." She set business hours that enable her schedule to allow for "conversation, creation, education, game playing and enjoying nature (Dana, Gail (November 18, 2001). "Ideas, Conversation and Dreams Fuel the Creations of Portlander Goody Cable").
Well, I could go on and on about how truly interesting this place is. However, simply the quality of the coffee and desserts alone should be enough to get you there. Just come with curiosity in-hand and the need for some caffeine and sugar...you won't be disappointed.
Find Rimsky-Korsakoffee House at this address: 707 SE 12th Ave, Portland, OR 97214. They open nightly at 7 p.m...so no early morning coffee here.
See their website here....or not, since they don't have a website! You must love that fact...it only adds to the old nature of the place. Here's a useful Google link showing a map, etc.