As a quintessential coffeehouse we strive to invoke inspiration. Periodically we’re contacted for high school and college field trips. One SC4 English professor, Louella Allen, brings in a new class every semester. The assignment – write a paper about their experience and impressions of the Raven.
Muggle World Gone Magical
Before walking into the Raven, I already had some presumptions on hand. I expected it to look like a place that jumped directly out of one of Edgar Allen Poe’s works; boy was I wrong! When I directed my view above me and saw the menacing look of the raven perched upon the doorway I instantly thought, “Is it too late to claim I was sick?” I was afraid to see what was inside. I am not exactly the biggest fan of Poe’s melancholy work. Thankfully I had a classmate next to me who did not pick up any signs of me having an internal freak out session. However, as we walked in I felt like I was instantaneously sucked out of the “Muggle” world and shoved straight into my first day of the wizarding world.
When I was completely in the restaurant I was expecting to see waitresses with frizzy uncontrollable hair and nails as long as their fingers; and a possible boiling cauldron. I looked around to make sure none of the pictures were moving and that there were no wands being whipped out to stir coffee or tea. Even with traces of the Muggle world still in this magical place I felt as if I had been accepted into Hogwarts and was on my first tour of Diagon Alley. I expected to whip around and bump into a fiery red headed Weasley, a girl whose nose was stuck in a book and someone gawking at the scar on my forehead.
Glancing at the books I was waiting to see if I would find one of the books by the flaky Gilderoy Lockheart. With no such luck finding Gadding with Ghouls, Travels with Trolls, or Voyages with Vampires I realized the books were in no specific order; they almost seemed randomly placed. Hoping to see if I could find one Harry Potter book I found out my search was pointless; but then again maybe I did not look hard enough. The books were pretty old looking, if I was afraid to open one for they had the potential to fall apart.
Whatever the place was meant to do; whether it was to bring Poe’s work alive, or attribute to the magical world, or was just simply created to be different than any other coffee house/restaurant there is a true magic to be found. I believe I found that magic and, like a little child playing pretend, my imagination flew. I am excited for my next adventure to the Raven; maybe some of my friends would like to step out of the Muggle world for a few hours too.
by Angie Bonino 12/17/09
Painting & Pictures Everywhere
I have been to the Raven once before but I came in through the front entrance. However, today I parked way out back because there were no available parking spots nearby and I headed toward what I suspected was the back entrance. After walking in, every door I passed was labeled “Employees Only” so I was not sure if this was an entrance for customers or not, despite my confusion I kept walking until I found steps that took me up to the kitchen so I quickly stepped around and found another staircase that took me to the top deck where I was reunited with my fellow classmates.
I saw big couches that no one had sat on yet and I thought to myself, “that looks so comfy.” I quickly claimed one and began to admire the craziness that was going on all over the walls, tables and just about everything. There were paintings and pictures everywhere, I noticed a few across from the bathrooms when I first entered the building. It was just crazy! I couldn’t keep my eyes from moving from one piece to another.
The menus had such unique names for all the food, it was tough to choose but I finally chose to build my own sandwich and get a chocolate frappe. My sandwich was quite good, so moist and soft, filled with ingredients all the way to the end unlike other restaurants where it’s just bread at the end. After my sandwich I tried my frappe, after one sip I could not stop myself from guzzling it all down.
The food was delightfully delicious and I had an amazing time. I am sure I will find myself at the Raven again sometime soon.
By Mike Brittain 12/8/09
The ‘Tell-Tale Heart’ Turkey Caesar Club
I’ve never been to The Raven before. I’ve passed by the café several times, always taking notice of the raven perched above the entrance way. Although every time I passed by it did indeed pique my curiosity, I never stopped in because I wasn’t sure what kind of place The Raven was. The sign on the outside said it was a coffeehouse but I am not much of a coffee drinker and have never been one to sit for hours gabbing with my friends. Nevertheless, I was excited when I learned I would finally have the opportunity to see The Raven for what it was.
I parked in the back parking lot, and on my way in I looked up to see a three tiered balcony off the back of a wooden building. To me, it looked like an apartment house. I was then informed that it was actually The Raven. I was shown to the rear entrance and once I entered, I discovered a long narrow hallway. The walls were painted a dull orange-yellow color and decorated with an eclectic assortment of posters, signs and what looked like pages torn from old books and magazines. Immediately I was intrigued by the individuality of the place and could not wait to discover the rest of The Raven. Walking up the stairs, I could hear the familiar clatter of pots and pans in the kitchen. Immediately in front of me was the drink station, and as I turned to the right I was greeted by the bustling cafe. Looking around, I discovered that the back entrance way was only an appetizer to what I was about to experience.
Immediately my eyes became overwhelmed with what they were trying to process, and I just kind of stood there, looking around in awe. I was obviously in the way and was directed toward the stairs leading to our reserved section. Walking up the stairs, I discovered our section could not have been more perfect; we were perched above the entire main floor. The second floor of The Raven has an open loft plan that allowed customers to sit overlooking the entire restaurant. While I was obviously at a restaurant, I could not help but feeling as if was at home, as I searched for the best place to put down my things and enjoy the atmosphere. Yes, there were tables and chairs, the same as in every restaurant. However, it was the shelves overflowing with antique books, the large cushy black leather couches and the balcony that allowed me to relax and enjoy this place more than I had enjoyed any other public eatery. I chose to sit at the edge of the loft reserved for us, just atop the stairs, affording me the opportunity to soak in everything The Raven had to offer visually. The atmosphere was light and friendly and we were encouraged to look around. Before I visually perused the restaurant though, I needed to look at the menu and decide what I wanted to sample from the kitchen.
Upon opening the menu, I discovered it was about as ordinary as the restaurant, which, was about as ordinary as a purple dog. The menu offered an array of edibles, but not too many so that I was not overwhelmed with choices. Some of the items listed were: ‘Imp of the Perverse’ Hot Turkey Sandwich, ‘Angel of the Odd’ Veggie Roll Up, ‘Landor’s Cottage’ Salad, and ‘Valley of Unrest’ Turkey Quesadilla. I settled upon the ‘Tell-Tale Heart’ Turkey Caesar Club. · Hoping the sandwich was as delicious as its name, my mouth watered in anticipation. Once I placed my order, I decided to explore all The Raven had to offer.
From my seat I could see just about everything. There was another loft above the main entranceway equipped with microphones, speakers and other musical equipment. This is where bands play on Friday and Saturday nights. There is also a wide array of old posters spread throughout the restaurant. Everything from Casablanca to Albert Einstein occupies the walls of The Raven. Every piece of furniture, every light fixture, every wall has something to offer the eyes. The tables are decorated with old pictures and posters under the epoxy. Even the chandelier has a raven perched on its edge, evoking conversation. The eclecticism from down stairs had carried over to the main floor, or maybe it was the main floor that spilled down the stairs. Either way, looking around the restaurant, I saw something new in every nook and cranny, and never saw the same thing twice. As I sat gobbling up all the action below, I eagerly anticipated my food.
I watched our waitress walk up and down the stairs carrying a large tray several times, and not once did she spill anything. I know it is hard to walk upstairs carrying a tray and she did it to perfection. Watching her pass out food, I eyeballed every plate and everything looked delicious. I noticed her making her way toward me with an enormous platter. This was the ‘Tell-Tale Heart’ Turkey Caesar Club. The sandwich was much larger than I had expected. It was piled high with turkey, bacon, lettuce and a delicious Caesar dressing. I smashed it together between my palms and still winced in pain as I tried to wrap my mouth around all the flavors at once. I knew that first bite would be the deciding factor, and I was impressed. The lettuce was crisp, the turkey was sliced just right and the bacon was cooked to perfection. All of this resting between two slices of sourdough bread and topped with a delightful dressing, was the perfect presentation for the ‘Tell Tale Heart’ Turkey Caesar Club. The food and the atmosphere had a story to tell. This was a small business ran by hometown people that prides itself on a friendly atmosphere, good service and great food. As I sat enjoying my food, I decided I would definitely visit again.
The Raven Coffeehouse is a wonderful place to go with friends, family or even alone, with much more to offer than just coffee. Before this visit I had never ventured inside The Raven. I was always afraid I would not fit in, but today I discovered everyone fits in at The Raven. They have something to offer every lifestyle and every age, including children. With a menu that is sure to make your mouth water and a friendly welcoming environment, I vow to ignore The Raven, nevermore.
By Sarah Dees 11/19/07
Like a Long Lost Relative
I didn’t know what to expect to see when I went to the Raven, I just moved here this year so the area is all new to me, and yet when I ask for directions, people always act like I know what they’re talking about. After my Aunt showed my where the Raven was, my attention was captured to say the least. The moment I was inside; I was captivated by all the surroundings, and even though they were new to me, I instantly felt right at home. On one shelf, I saw a book with the title “Not as a Stranger” and that was exactly how I felt. The entire place made me think of a cozy attic that just happened to attract a variety of different people into it. Everyone was nice and they all had smiles on their faces. It was almost like everyone there was a long lost relative, and you were at a family reunion.
The entire place looked like an attic actually, especially the third floor that our party was on. To get there you had to climb the staircases that wrapped around the building, and gave you the full lay out of the coffeehouse. You passed the kitchen, the bar and then took a right by the piano to reach the third floor where my class was. The room seemed like a shrine to the 1930’s movie era. They had pictures of Casablanca and other assorted movie posters of that era. My favorite poster was called Views of Life”. It compared different religions views on bad things happening, and why they happen. The tables had Broadway advertisements and pictures of movie stars on them. At my place on the table there were these two pictures that I enjoyed the most. One picture was this Marilyn Monroe look-a- like posing with her leg pointing out. Directly below her was this picture of a baby fighting with a dog over a toy, and the baby had his leg sticking out the same way. The room that we ate in was very comfortable, both walls were covered in books, ranging from all different genres. There was also an area where kid’s books were placed at a level where they could reach them without assistance.
The lighting in the Raven was remarkable. The light gave the ceiling a mellow glow. This made the rooms have a weightless, airy feeling with plenty of lighting to not smother the customers. In one half of the room, there was a knitting club that talked about the most interesting things. My favorite topic of theirs was if you could have a favorite sister or not (I happen to think you can, even if you won’t admit it). On the other side, there was a balcony over-looking downtown Port Huron. The view reminded me of an Old Italian city, giving it a 1930s look (which went along with the theme of that room). You see an old, rusted bridge surrounded by rooftops crowded together.
Some of the things that they have out in the open to read are fascinating. On the back of the menu there was a brief history of the Raven and the building. The building that The Raven is at is a restored Civil War era building, with stained glass windows designed by a local artist, Donny Burton. Another interesting fact is that Thomas Edison might have visited there as a kid!
I enjoyed my visit to The Raven. I found the place to be a home away from home, where people can go to relax and enjoy good food and drinks. As Joyce Maynard once said, “A good home must be made, not bought”. The Raven manages to create a cozy home atmosphere that instantly allows patrons a place to get away for a while.
By Alyssa O’Leary 4/29/08
A Delight to All Five Senses
It was a dazzling fall afternoon as I strolled down the sidewalk on my way to have lunch at The Raven Cafe. The sun was shining intensely; far from being a bleak November day, and the wind was blustery enough to remind me that winter would be upon us in a few short weeks. When I arrived at my destination there perched above the front door was the infamous raven; never flitting, still just sitting, sitting above the chamber door.
As I entered the cafe it was extremely busy, which is always a good sign when you are going to dine somewhere for the first time. The first thing that you notice when you enter The Raven is all of the memorabilia of saintly days of yore. Everywhere you looked there was something that took you back to a different era; from classic art to modem day posters to antique tea cups, my eyes were never disappointed. The walls were also graced with many volumes of forgotten lore that made me wonder who might have perused their pages long ago. Behind the many shelves of books you could see the bare bricks peering out wanting to reveal their secrets of years gone by. Even if they had uttered a word it would have fallen upon deaf ears; for the chatter of the patrons that had gathered for their midday meal wafted through the cafe like the sweet aroma of the numerous flavors of coffee being supped up. The second level of the cafe offered a very relaxed setting with big cushiony couches to lean back on and take in the ambience of your surroundings. This looked like an excellent place to sit with your head at ease, reclining with a good book and a tantalizing beverage after a stressful day at work or school.
As I sat down and started to look at the menu I knew that my taste buds were not going to be let down either. It was hard to choose from all of the unique and tempting items that were offered in the quaint raven themed menu. The choices were not what I was accustomed to; I took my time, so as to not miss anything they had to offer. It was hard to decide with so many interesting and enticing selections, but I had a feeling that I wasn’t going to be disappointed no matter what my final decision was. I decided to get a Rueben sandwich with a cup of broccoli soup, one of the more conservative options on the menu; but one that sounded totally delicious.
While waiting for my lunch I enjoyed gazing out across the river taking in all of the landscape that encompassed my lunchtime setting. I also took the opportunity to walk through the cafe and attempt to absorb all of the unique art and history that adorned the walls. I could tell right away that it would take more than the short time I had to see everything The Raven had to offer. From the basement to the second floor the cafe was bursting with details, even the table tops were interesting to behold.
In what seemed like no time at all my lunch arrived and its appearance was totally scrumptious. Between the two lightly grilled slabs of rye bread were layers of flavor patiently waiting for my palette to enjoy, which wasn’t disappointed. The com beef was by far the most tender I had ever encountered on a Reuben sandwich. The Swiss cheese and sauerkraut were proportioned perfectly as not to overwhelm each other. The sandwich was lightly slathered with a sauce that tasted familiar, but not identical, to any Reuben sandwich condiment that I had tasted in the past. The broccoli soup was a pleasant accompaniment to my sandwich, creamy and cheesy; just how I like it.
Overall my experience at The Raven was very delightful and satisfying to all of the five senses. The waitress was very courteous and helpful, which is always appreciated in my book. As I bade farewell to Bob Dylan, who had been “dining” with me at my table, I left with an overall pleasant feeling. The sights, sounds, flavors and smells of The Raven would surely linger with me for a long time. As I glanced back at the raven perched above the front door, I pictured him sitting there in the dark of night with only the glow of the street lights streaming down on him. His eyes didn’t have all the seeming of a demon that was dreaming, but more of a twinkle and a wink; welcoming people inside to experience all the treasures that lie within. Don’t ponder too long before you go visit The Raven, I am convinced your senses will be enlightened.
By Carol Zuehlke 11/9/07
Gargoyles & Bullshit
As I walked up to the Raven I was instantly taken back by the large dark bird overlooking the entrance way. The bird was a raven it seemed to be protecting something. Perhaps it was looking for prey to feed its’ young-ins” in its nest and the nest was actually the restaurant. I enjoyed the first thing I saw as I walked up to the building. The ambience was set immediately as I approached the building and only grew as I entered.
Our class sat on the second layer of the restaurant giving us an overlooking view of the rest of the enchanting place. As I sat in the restaurant waiting for the waitress to take my order I could do nothing to stay in my seat. I want to get up and look at all the works of art resting about in this very visual place. It was a difficult place to concentrate, even to take notes on the different art works because there was always something else catching your eye.
As I looked up from my seat my stomach dropped, I did not like what my eyes fell on, Gargoyles. I may not be religious, but I do not like the evil-demonic look about them. It set a dark somber feeling inside of me. Then I started to look around, I saw a picture ‘of Einstein on the wall. Einstein, in the picture has his tongue sticking out and even though I have seen it before I still laugh every time I cross it. There were a variety of pictures on the wall, it seemed as if every free space was covered by them. Pictures of infants, Marilyn Monroe, Kirk Douglas, and Casablanca are sprinkled all about the walls.
As I walked down the steps a picture caught my eye. The photograph was called “Fallen Angles.” In the picture there were two children portrayed to be angles but they were not acting quite angelic by any means. The children had a lazy look about them and had cigarettes hanging out of their mouths. I did not like the way this picture portrayed a child nor how it portrayed what an angel may be. We think of children and angles to be the same, of purity and virtue with no darkness.
An area with no art I find this odd. Why would there be an entire hallway with nothing on it. This hallway led to the basement. Once down on the lower levels there is not much down there besides the restrooms, but even the walls to the restrooms and the restrooms themselves have pictures decoupage on them.
Walking back to my seat before my lunch arrived I saw a picture that was quite hilarious. There was a picture of bullfrogs and they were attending school. They were seated in a classroom setting and they were being told something by a teacher; another frog at the front of the class. One frog that was sitting in the desk answered the teacher saying “bull-shit”, I found this funny because it was a bullfrog saying “bullshit.”
Then my lunch finally arrived. It was delicious. My experience at the Raven was incredible I cannot wait until I go back. I think it would be a nice place to go back to. I would perhaps take one of my girlfriends their just to have coffee and gossip about the men in our lives or to actually go there on a date. The ambience about the Raven would give anyone something to converse about, whether they would compare themselves to the art work or just talk about what they liked or disliked in what they saw. I guess I would even visit the restaurant by myself, perhaps choose one of the thousands of books on the wall to read or just to escape to a time for myself.
By Carolyn. Modrich 11/9/07
My Dry Sponge Experience
The Raven is a fascinating place full of culture. To start, it’s a coffeehouse and they have become pretty uncommon, especially in Michigan. Coming inside from the back entrance the walls were lined with old pictures of famous actors and actresses accompanied with old commercial advertisements.
As I ascended the stairs to the first floor, I saw many different posters that adorned the walls. Casablanca, a provocative one of Marilyn Monroe and others that I didn’t know. Along with the posters there were loads signs, each with something different to say. There were also a bunch of different stuffed animals, statues, and clocks as well.
The coffeehouse was something that an 0.C.D. person would hate. There were things scattered everywhere and without even a pause to think of where things should go probably. My favorite area of the whole building was upstairs on the second floor. There were four comfortable couches and with two tables separating them. Along with tables that were arranged for larger parties to dine at together. There was also a balcony that was connected to the second floor. It was large enough to sustain a group of people outside and overlooked the channel that separated the U.S. from Canada.
The atmosphere was light and they even had live music every now and again. The food was to die for. The French Dip sandwich is what I ordered and it was fantastic. Along with an accompaniment of Chai Tea with a shot of Espresso to compliment it. One of the most amazing lunches I’ve ever had. I enjoy being there and cannot wait to go again.
By Don Thieke 4-17-08
A Little Known Nook
I never knew such a place existed. Well I never knew one existed in this town to be more accurate. I always assumed that Port Huron was an ordinary “plain Jane”. Yet I have seen the other side, and it is stunning. The fact is, “The Raven” is a paradise lost of sorts that exists in our own community.
The Raven seems to be squished between two other buildings. When I walked in and up the stairs, the first thing I noticed was the red brick walls. Following the walls to the top I noticed how open it was above my head. Winding around I followed Brystol to the top, all the way up to the balcony. Once up there I felt like I was in a cave, perched high on a shelf.
I sat on a leather couch which looked aged and worn. It was extremely comfortable, and while I sat there I surveyed my surroundings. I was a raven perched high above. Looking around I noticed the many books on shelves. If there was an open space, it got a bookshelf, and then as many books that could possible squeezed together.
As we left the safety of our little shelf, I wandered around and found another outcropping. It was the musk platform and from this I got a very unique perspective. As I sat there, I watched my fellow classmates wander around, oblivious to me watching. I wondered is this what a raven feels like? Watching people walk around, having no idea that they are being watched? The atmosphere of The Raven seems warm and inviting, yet mysterious and intriguing.
By DJ Mayle 12-12-09
Basking in the Ambiance
The cultural field trip, to the Raven, with my class was an awesome experience. I honestly was not that excited for I had been there before, but I had to thank Professor Allen again for reintroducing me to this divine café.
I knew it was my assignment to bask in the ambiance as soon as I walked through the doors so I did. Walking in with an open mind had already changed my perspective of the coffeehouse. As I first walk in I noticed that it is cluttered like my mother’s house, but soon realized that it’s not cluttered yet merely busy to keep your mind intrigued.
On the lower level there were coffee mixes and a variety of merchandise for sale. It seemed to be a busy day with the bottom floor almost elbow to elbow with customers. So I gazed around looking for my class and when I didn’t see anyone I knew, I made my way toward the stairs. I passed gargoyles protecting customers from evil and found my class that almost took up the entire loft.
I was happy to find a comfortable seat on the sofa instead of the usual table and chairs when dining out. It made me feel like I was at home aside from the walls shelved with books and hanging portraits of different people everywhere. The coffee tables had pictures in them as well as the bars and tables. I never went into the woman’s bathroom but I hear that the portraits in the men’s bathroom had all been given mustaches.
After handing in my assignment I began to search for something to order. At first glance the menu looked like a foreign language. If you actually read what the make of the dishes are you’ll find something you love. I found the ‘Valley of Unrest’ Quesadilla, with juicy grilled chicken, pepper jack cheese, sliced rings of red onion, chopped tomatoes, bacon, and chipotle ranch sauce grilled together on a flour tortilla.
I had no idea that they also served smoothies so I ordered a ‘Wild Berry Blast’ smoothie. It consists of blended blueberries, black berries, raspberries, low fat yogurt, green tea, and ice. Topped with whipped cream and sprinkles this vibrant drink took my taste buds to heaven. If it wasn’t for my wonderful experience with Professor Allen’s class I may never have came back to this marvelous place. Now I await the day I can return.
By Krystal Lewis 12/14/09
The Coffee Zone
As you walked up to the door, the raven perched high above, overlooking the inkwell and quill, gives you a glimmer of the world you are about to enter. The short walk down the wood-paneled entranceway allows you to prepare yourself for the journey to another realm. Upon opening the heavy wooden door, you can smell the aromatic coffee and the succulent creations wafting from the kitchen. You have just entered the Coffee Zone.
When I first saw the raven coffeehouse and café, I did not know where to look. The eclectic design kept my eyes wandering around the restaurant. Above me on the ceiling over the bar, gargoyles leered down watching the patrons. Movie posters are scattered around the walls featuring movie greats like Marilyn Monroe, and Marlene Dietrich. Stuffed animal heads keep their eyes on the diners as they enjoy their lunch. I knew this was not going to be your average coffeehouse.
As I walked through the Raven, The smell of delicious coffees, teas, and assorted aromas tickled my nose. Everywhere patrons were enjoying their favorite drinks as their baristas and servers were busily keeping everyone’s cups full. Soft Irish music was playing in the background and the sound of animated chatter could be heard from those enjoying their coffee.
The downstairs area was arranged with tables for two to four people nestled around the coffee bar. These tables were all hand painted wood and were done as a tribute to famous writers. In glancing around, I saw tables dedicated to Joan Baez, Charles Dickins, Robert Frost and Leonard Bernstein. Cozy little nooks were available under the stairways and balconies for a quiet tête-à-tête.
As I ascended the wooden stairway, I noticed the two walls upstairs that are lined with books. On the bookshelves, I saw something to suit almost any reading taste or interest. Doing a quick glance, I saw everything from Mark Twain’s Autobiography, Little woman, Jackie Collins Rock Star, to the Literary History of The US. The immense library coupled with the huge leather couches along one side of the upstairs would make this the perfect place to kill some time between classes or meetings and read a good book. The Raven also offers free wi-fi access to customers, so this would also be a good hangout to check up on email or do some browsing.
The Iron and wood railing around the upstairs balcony is lined with a counter allowing you to look down on the rest of the restaurant as you enjoy your food or coffee. This is a great vantage point, allowing you to see all of the eclectic décor of this unusual restaurant. Tiffany-style, stained glass lamps hung from the ceiling, casting a gentle glow down on diners. Movie posters litter the walls, gargoyles sit below you on the coffee bar roof, pictures of famous people and authors line the walls. Everywhere you look there is something to draw your attention.
I can easily imagine this as a favorite haunt for writers and artists. The odd assortment of sculptures and art intermingle to bring out a persons creative soul. The artwork on the walls begs you to pick up your pen or charcoal and put their tales to paper. Who could not feel some form of inspiration surrounded by this immense library with photos of literary greats, like Jack Kerouac, watching down over your shoulder from their place on the wall?
The food menus is inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s stories. It features such colorful dishes as “Pre-mature burial bacon ham melt”, “Spirits of the dead turkey club salad”, and “Landor’s cottage salad”. The food was delicious, and lived up to its artistic descriptions, and was presented on the plates beautifully. I decided to get the Pre-mature Burial bacon ham melt. It was stacked on Italian ciabatta bread and came with baby Swiss and American cheddar. All the dishes pair well with your favorite cup of coffee or cappuccino and would be a great accompaniment for any coffee aficionado’s appetite. I also ordered a Caramel Macchiato that was to die for and was served in a large mug.
Whether you are looking for a nice place for dinner, a college student looking for a place to spend a couple hours, or an artist looking for inspiration, this is the perfect place for all. The quiet, laid back atmosphere and cheerful wait staff make it an inviting retreat from any hectic schedule. I will definitely be going back, laptop or schoolbooks in hand, to enjoy an excellent cup of coffee and catch up on class work between classes. Hope to see you there.
By Shaune Sebastian 11/9/07
The Raven and its Aura
At roughly twelve PM, we were instructed to meet up at the Raven for a class visit. I was planning on driving until my classmates informed me that it was within walking distance. This made me happy because it was such a nice day outside. The walk only took about fifteen minutes and the sun was shining bright. However, the best scenery was the outside of the Raven itself.
I opened the door of the Raven to view a ladder which lead to the piano stage on the second floor. I always wished that I could climb onto the stage, but I assumed the customers weren’t aloud. Our class was led to the second floor which contained an unbelievable display of books. The library looked like something from the late 1800s. Despite how many times I’ve been to the Raven, I found out that there are always great things to discover.
After ordering Nacho’s and a coffee, I headed to the basement. The walls were painted red and contained many old photos and advertisements including anti-Nazi propaganda. I happened to notice a painting of Miro on the adjacent wall. The men’s bathroom was strangely filled with many black and white photos of half-naked women. This portion of the coffee shop made me feel as though I had traveled back to the 1940’s.
I returned to the fourth floor to visit the small novelty comer. I was surprised to see that some random books were shoved in the selves underneath the items being sold. I noted to my fellow classmates how The Raven seems to put books wherever they can get them, every shelf in the building struggles to keep its grasp on all the literature it holds. Behind me was the bar. I had seen the bar several times, but with my in depth observing period I noticed something that I never have before. On the top of the bar there are several stone statues of gargoyles. I’ve always liked gargoyle statues and this collection was amazing. The top half of the bar was like the Galerie des Chimeres in Paris.
After eating my meal, which was plentiful of tortilla chips, I took the rest of my coffee out onto the balcony so I could smoke a cigarette. The balcony contained a few chairs and tables that had old newspaper ads inside of protective plastic. Although the balcony was just as nice as any other spot in The Raven, I think the scenery ruined the ambiance slightly. While I felt as though I was walking around in Edgar Allen Poe’s library, the sights of pollution coming from the other side of the border brought the illusion down. I was allowed to smoke with warm coffer however; I was still happy.
The most amazing part of The Raven, as always, was the overall atmosphere. It was very calm and tranquil. I felt as though I could finish an entire week’s worth of homework here without breaking concentration. The stimulation the coffee shop offers would also increase my motivation and output. If I had the money to do so, I would visit the Raven every day during my break between classes.
The incredible ambiance of The Raven gave me probably one of the most enjoyable school days of my life. I hope to return soon on my own time. During my next visit, I will be sure to bring a digital camera so I can permanently capture views of the coffee shop. It is one place I truly believe will never become boring. As I said before, I’ll probably discover something new next time I go, despite weather or not it was there many visits ago.
By Chad Cadreau
The Finest of Cynicism
The Raven is my dwelling of choice when I’m in the mood to unwind in a slightly unorthodox environment. The innovative décor sends my head spinning as soon as I walk through the onerous wooden doors. In any other circumstance, this could be interpreted as a negative reaction, but I take rotund pleasure in the vast diversity of the adroitness surrounding me. As I head up the stairs, I notice a plethora of pictures, paintings, and photographs covering the walls around me.
The pieces that stand out to me the most are the eccentric, untraditional, ambiguous posters displaying irony and cynicism. I find humor in the unconventional position a few of these pieces characterize. The first piece that places an anarchic grin on my face is at the top of the stairs leading up to the balcony. “Fallen Angels” is a depiction of two angels that would normally be seen in a painting in a Catholic church, or a similar affair. Instead of the usual grace and empathy revealed by pieces of that nature, the angels are smoking cigarettes, indolently slouched as their drunken gaze reveals that they are not the least bit concerned.
The “Fallen Angels” corresponded adequately with the next poster I noticed once I sat down. “The Religious Views of Life” was packed with irony and satire. The poster exposed several religions and their take on ways that “shit” happens in life. The incongruity of this piece is that most religions probably don’t endorse curse words as a way things happen in life, but this poster was comical.
My favorite part of being at The Raven is the cynical environment. It puts me at ease so I can either socialize, study, or just solely enjoy my Vanilla Chai Tea latte in peace. The Raven is a great venue to escape the murk of the rest of the town.
By Jaime Glombowski 12-11-09
The Raven-istique of The Raven Coffeehouse
I remember reading about The Raven in the newspaper when it opened. It had always seemed to me like a coffeehouse was a good idea for Port Huron. The city needed a place where people could relax in the kind of atmosphere the Raven provides. There were other coffee shops, long ago; they just never lasted very long. I remember hanging out at the Anecdote and later Coffee Grounds when we wanted a coffee fix. They were cool and hip for a little while then they faded away. Those places lacked a certain staying power. Maybe they weren’t unique enough. At any rate they were nothing compared to The Raven.
I had always heard a lot of good things about The Raven and I always wanted to get a chance to check it out. Everyone that I talked to seemed to have a pleasant experience. They all had appreciated different things about the ambience of this popular coffeehouse. I always thought it would be a cool place to grab a bite to eat, listen to some cool music, or just hang out and sip coffee. When I heard I would finally get a chance to see what the buzz was about, in an English glass no less, I admit I was a little too excited.
Every time I drove by The Raven I would look, captivated by its eccentric architectural style. With the detailed, decorative windows, and the looming black raven above the door I have always been curious as to what was inside.
It definitely was above and beyond any expectations I had. Walking inside I was overwhelmed with the amount of artwork, sculptures, and books that were packed in the place. Everywhere you looked there was something different for your eyes to focus on. The Raven has everything from pictures of Einstein to Gargoyles, and Buddha statues to provide a different kind of companionship to its guests. Populated with all of the statuary it has, The Raven probably seems packed even when it is closed. I found it rather odd though that hanging on the wall across from the loft was a photo of a child sitting on a crock. It happened to be the same picture my grandmother has had hanging in her bathroom of all places since I can remember. That’s the kind of place The Raven seemed to be to me, a little familiarity surrounded by peculiarity. Books of any genre you can think of fill every available space on the walls. I enjoyed how the restaurant was laid out with the elevated stage and the cozy loft space where the music almost sound ethereal.
The Raven seems to insist you relax, sit down on a couch and kick your feet up on the coffee tables. The atmosphere is almost refreshing, even the wait staff make you feel comfortable and at home. I have always heard great reviews of the food offered but the menu wasn’t at all what I anticipated. The portions are immense and the quality is unparalleled in my opinion. The desserts looked so delicious, I could not find the words to describe them. Nowhere in the city of Port Huron will you see a menu with so much variety. I found the literary references kind of quirky but the Poe references only add to The Raven’s unique atmosphere. The Raven is truly a great coffeehouse that not only offers wonderful coffee blends but teas and to my surprise some rather interesting smoothies. They truly seem to have something for everyone. I will definitely be returning to The Raven and as an asset to the city I hope it is here for long time.
By Jason Kish
Books, Art & Food
Always I love the Raven Café! The atmosphere is wonderful and it is always so inviting. They have many books, works of art, and two great menus. I visit the Raven Cafe all the time, it’s always comfortable even when it’s approaching its human capacity.
They have gotten new couches since the last time I went in there. I enjoyed the old ones, but the new couches are just as comfortable. Most of the time when I sit upon the couches, I just want to curl into a little ball and fall asleep. There is a poster hanging on the upstairs wall next to the couches named “Religious Views of Life” that I find quite humorous. The Raven Café has Wi-Fi connections so that the internet can be wirelessly reached. This will be quite amazing once I get my own laptop. In my own opinion, the upstairs is a better place to sit unless you want to look at the works of art because the books are always changing.
The books all seem to be able to walk among the shelves. They are never in the same spot. I just love how they are always moving. Once, the sixth Harry Potter book was next to the upstairs two-top table in front of the stairs. Three days later the book was gone. There is always some new book to replace the old ones. They have books about psychology, mid evil rulers, dictators of the world, and random sets of encyclopedias. I have never gone in to just sit and read a book, maybe sometime I will change that. The books are not the only thing in the Raven Café that hold my interest in place. The amount of art is always great to look at.
The Raven Café has so much to offer when it comes to the works of art. Albert Einstein is pictured in two different places on their walls. One of which he is sticking his tongue out at all of us. The bathrooms in the lowest level hallway are also filled with art. The men’s bathroom has women in skimpy outfits, and I find it a little humorous. There are these two little goblin statues that are sitting around and having a good time it seems. They are one of my favorite quirks about this coffeehouse. The first time I saw them just sitting there, I laughed about it. They are one of the works of art that makes the Raven Café such an artsy place. It adds to the ambiance of the restaurant while one is eating their food.
They have two menus, one for beverages and one for food. I love their assortment of drinks. The mass amounts of coffee to choose from. One of my favorites is the frozen cherry mocha. Every time I get one, I scarf down the whipped cream first. Not all of their drinks are coffee based though, they have an assortment of tea that would make any tea enthusiast happy. Those who do not want something full of caffeine can always order one of the fruit smoothies or a frappe. They have all of the gourmet syrups to add to whatever one is drinking and a mass of healthy items full of vitamins to add. Next comes the wonderful food. My favorite dish is the “Plutonian Shore” French dip. To this day I can still not choose which one of their wonderful side dishes that I want. The arrangement of the food is made to look perfect every time it is brought out to the guest.
Overall, the Raven Cafe is one of the best places to go to for food and art. The wandering books, mass amounts of art, and the beautiful presentation of their food all adds to this wonderful place. Everyone should go to the Raven Cafe at least once, if not for the books or art, then for the delicious food. I cannot wait to go back to enjoy this wonderful experience again.
By Edward Lozowski