IF JACK Kerouac and Neal Cassady were still grabbing kicks on Route 66, there's a place in Adams Morgan they'd enjoy after a hard day on the road. It's called the Potter's House, the last of a once proud string of coffee houses (Java Jungle, Pilgrim's Cave, the Cauldron) that flourished in D.C. during the late '50s and early '60s. For 24 years, the Potter's House has been supplying coffee, simple fare and folk music to the denizens of Adams Morgan at a price that can only be described as rock bottom.
When you walk into the Potter's House you'll notice it's dark. Then you'll notice someone on the bandstand (if you can call it that) strumming a guitar and singing softly. Then you might notice that much of the male clientele, and even some of the female, bear a faint resemblance to George Carlin. Not all the old hippies have cut their hair and gone to work for IBM. A healthy number of them can be found Thursday through Saturday nights at the trapezoidal tables in the Potter's House, nursing a pot of Darjeeling tea and enjoying the distinctly benevolent vibes.
The food is hearty: homemade soups for $1, sandwiches in the $2.50 range, pies for $1.25, and "good & healthy odds & ends" (yogurt, nuts, etc.) from 75 cents to $1.75. The earthy decor is highlighted by works of art with titles like "Untitled Collage, acrylic on paper." And you can buy nifty gifts (pottery, etc.) in the tiny, eclectically stocked bookshop off the non-smoking section.
When you're talking coffee houses, however, the bottom line is going to be the coffee, and the Potter's House certainly delivers.
The nine coffees on the menu range from Russian imperial and cafe nectar (topped with ice cream) to cafe Borgia and cappuccino, but you get the idea that the folks in charge are most proud of the espresso. Teas are equally well represented, if not quite as exotic.
The entertainment is generally folk and light rock, with occasional forays into jazz and rhythm and blues. There are also periodic play readings. The Potter's House is sponsored by the ecumenical Church of the Saviour, and therefore the prices are low (the staff is volunteer) and there is no alcohol.
Jack Kerouac is gone and Route 66 is closed. But whatever road you're traveling, the Potter's House makes for a nice stop. POTTER'S HOUSE -- 1658 Columbia Road NW. Open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 11 to 11 Thursday and Friday, 7:30 to 11 p.m. Saturday. Closed Sunday. Live music beginning at 8 Fridays and Saturdays. 232-5483.