Did you grow up reading Brian Froud’s fairy (and faerie) books? Do you have an obsession with the two old ladies’ house from Coraline? Did you have a dark carnival playlist in middle school? Or a classical music phase? Does your therapist describe your child self as “precocious” and “whimsical”? Are you a near midnight dessert enthusiast? Then Rimsky-Korsakoffee House beckons you to visit.
Located in southeast Portland and named after Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Rimsky-Korsakoffee House (commonly called Rimsky’s) is an unconventional, yet cool coffeehouse operating on Wednesday to Sunday from 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. Yes, you read that right. 7 at night to 12 in the morning.
The cafe was opened in 1980 by owner Goody Cable. She told Portland Business Journal that this decision came after years of hosting classical music events in her home
Cable stated she opened Rimsky’s “to stop cleaning (her) house for music parties,” after hosting classical music events at home for years.
She added that her vision was “an unconventional and “homelike” restaurant, attractive to conversationalists who enjoy beer, desserts and music.”
My friends and I journeyed to Rimsky’s on a Saturday night around 10 p.m. Parking was scarce, limited to street parking in a busy club-and-bar-filled neighborhood. Upon walking into the Craftsman-style house, we were greeted by a waiting room overflowing with people all wanting to get in. All in all, it took us about 30 minutes to get to our table.
We were seated on an eclectic assortment of chairs and couches, all surrounding a table which spun slowly, which multiple times left me wondering if I was hallucinating or if things were, in fact, moving. Other tables at Rimsky’s reportedly rise, shake or disappear altogether. I was mesmerized by my surroundings, but some of my friends were a little disappointed.
One of my companions stated that the couch they sat on “smelled like urine and that it was too crowded, didn’t give them the feeling of being ‘clean.’”
Rimsky’s menu is split into four categories: coffee drinks, non-coffee drinks, cake’s, and sundaes. Drink prices range from $3 to $6, and desserts begin at $7.25.
I ordered the Mocha Fudge Cake and an iced Cafe Mexicana, which promised a helping of chocolatey spiced goodness, but unfortunately failed to deliver me the cinnamon punch I so desperately craved. The Mocha Fudge Cake, on the other hand, was divine. It had the thick richness of a flourless chocolate cake, at times so much so that I had to take a break lest I make myself sick. It was perfect for any chocolate lover with a ravenous craving for velvety and decadent.
Isabel Poelstra ’25, one of my curious companions on this trip, viewed their dessert and drink as lackluster and somewhat bewildering.
“[The] cobbler was the most expensive thing on the dessert menu for a scant amount of fruit, a solid pie crust that was fine, if not the crumble I envisioned, and for some ungodly reason sprinkles (the scoop of ice cream was ungenerous as well),” Poelstra said. “The cider was distinctly lacking in apple flavor and the spices floating on top were equally loud in texture as well as flavor (again, not really that much imparted, but still). 6/10, no plans to return unless begged by a loved one.”
Emma Ford ’25, the organizer of our trip to Rimsky’s had this to say about her dessert — “A ship goes to pieces against a rock, mint ice cream with hot fudge” — and correspondingly the cafe itself.
“Not the most innovative or complex dessert in the world, and once the effect of the cute glass and the name wore off, I was a little disappointed,” Ford said. “Plus, the fudge was not very warm, and the ice cream was melted, making me think it sat for a while (understandable on a busy Friday night). Indicative of the whole place — a good idea with charming presentation that has sat a little too long with less beneath the surface to hold it up than it needs.”
Still, Rimsky’s is a fun place to take an out-of-towner, or to make a pilgrimage to on a boring evening or after a lame house party. The plentiful assortment of drinks and desserts, weird collage wall, under-the-sea themed bathroom and live music all make it a fun experience to try once.
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