Dessert Is A Spiritual Experience For Me: Olympia Swing Wine Bar

olympia swing wine barBy Mary Ellen Psaltis


Dessert is a spiritual experience for me. I spend my calories judiciously and when I do indulge, I expect sublime moments. At the top of my list is lava cake; one that is warm and lightly gooey whose tender crust has crunch and the rest melts like butter in my mouth. At its best, such a cake can be eaten naked (it, not me). I swoon at the thought of it. Swing Wine Bar offers a version called O.M.G. Cake. Believe it or not, it’s topped with candied bacon.

I’ve heard about the trend: Everything is better with bacon. Are they kidding? However, it is my culinary duty to test the trendy and experience it myself. Swing’s house-made flourless cake is exquisite. It rests in a pool of amber caramel and is topped with local Olympic Mountain ice cream and yes, the candied bacon.

Actually, I found the whole concoction a marvelous mouthful. It’s chewy, salty, sweet, creamy and more, all at the same time. The bacon is cooked in a little brown sugar and cayenne pepper giving an underlying note of sweet and zip. This dessert is a symphony of fat and sugar, and it’s epic. Though likely scary on the health-o-meter, don’t worry, you don’t have to eat it every day. I am not saying bacon makes everything better, but for some things – it’s worth a go.

Swing Wine Bar is not mainly about desserts – it’s about having a fun, relaxing time with great friends, superior drinks and food that measures up. Swing makes its home in an older house that sits on the hill above Capitol Lake with huge views onto Budd Inlet and the Olympic Mountains. In fair weather, you get to sit outside (grass underfoot) and breath in the fantastic scenery, but on rainy, winter days you can stay inside. Warm yourself with an original drink by Bar Manager Brad Knutson:  Mad Man Across the Water* or a Strawberry-Rhubarb Diamond Fizz. The have at least 20 original cocktails. Satisfy your stomach with gorgonzola stuffed mushrooms, Thai chicken wraps and/or their nearly famous smoky cheddar fondue. Still hungry? No problem. There are entrees from purely carnivore (lamb and steak) to seared ahi to eggplant Parmesan. Don’t worry about bringing along your gluten allergy or food preferences – you will likely find something right on the menu that will work for you.

Swing’s culinary team including Chef Thomas Humbock and Manager Stephen Pavletich have put together two eating events that bookend dinner to give their customers maximum flexibility. First there is the afternoon Lush Rush, a daily happy hour from 4:00 to 6:00. Selected specialty cocktails and various ‘bites’ are available that are sure to make your time there a truly ‘happy’ hour. Hungry or thirsty after a show? On Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 10:00 pm until midnight you can be part of the Swing Soiree. This is another menu of libations (including wine) and plates of snacks. Desserts are also available at this time.

olympia swing wine bar
Mad Man Across the Water – Hendricks Gin, lemon juice, framboise, housemade cucumber simple syrup: Top with a float of Australian sparkling Shiraz

Owners Nicole and Jim Butigan initially worked with local artists and designers to create a space that captured the spirit of Olympia, making the interior feel like a place for celebration and fun. There are over 50 different wines from which you can order just one glass. About half of the wines are Northwest focused and the rest touch places across the globe. Wines are selected to be affordable and wonderfully drinkable.

Swing also serves flights – which are three different wines served in three glasses – the equivalency of one larger glass. And now there are flights of single malt scotch, bourbon and one of tequila.

As well as owning a business, the Butigans continue to support this community with their involvement with arts (Harlequin, OLT, Washington Center), schools and other local activities. They even did their holiday shopping right downtown. Efforts are made to use local and regional food.

Preparing food is an artistic expression of colors, textures, tastes and talents. Swing Wine Bar brings this to you with their one-of-a-kind artisan cocktails, discerning appetizers, varied entrees and award winning desserts. Make your own discoveries. It doesn’t matter if you eat bacon or not; you’ll find something to celebrate.


Eat Well – Be Well

Puff Pastry-Wrapped Brie

Even when made at home, this sensational appetizer looks like it came off the page of a magazine. I don’t consider myself a big fan of brie, but baked with pastry or other additions, it’s a treat. You can make a snazzy appetizer with thawed puff pastry sheets, 1 eight-ounce Brie cheese round, and an egg and a splash of water.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Unfold thawed pastry sheet and place the cheese in the center. Fold up the pastry over the cheese. Trim off the excess and press the edges together. Whisk together the egg and water. Paint the seams and place down on your baking sheet. Use the scraps of pastry to decorate the top. Brush with egg mixture. Bake about 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Let it stand for 20 minutes before serving.

Baked Brie w/Apples and Cranberries (thank you to the Pampered Chef)

½ cup chopped apple (1/2 medium apple)

¼ cup sliced natural almonds

¼ cup dried cranberries

1 T packed brown sugar

¼ t. Korintje cinnamon

1 T butter

1 round (8 ounces) Brie

Preheat 350 degrees.

Coarsely chop apple mix with almonds, cranberries, brown sugar, cinnamon and stir. Stir in melted butter.

Cut Brie in half horizontally. Put in dish rind side down. Smooth over ½ of apple mixture. Top with other half rind side up and top that with the rest of the apple mixture. Bake 12-15 minutes or until cheese is soft – just beginning to melt.

For their Baked Brie Duo Swing stuffed one pastry with sautéed onions and mushrooms and other with figs. Nuts, apples and berries are also excellent with brie.


Flourless Chocolate Cake II from

4 (one ounce) squares semi sweet chocolate, chopped

½ cup butter

¾ cup white sugar

½ cup cocoa powder

3 eggs, beaten

1-teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease an 8-inch round cake pan; dust w/cocoa powder. In the top of a double boiler over lightly simmering water,  melt chocolate and butter. Remove from heat, then stir in sugar, cocoa powder, eggs and vanilla. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely. Slices can also be reheated for 20 to 30 seconds in the microwave before serving.


olympia swing wine bar
Pouisson a l’orange

A roasted half pouisson (young chicken) in a sweet reduction made with orange juice, orange zest, sugar, Madeira, clove and a dash of pectin. The sauce adds welcome flavors to the mini-bean and rice mixture as well as the chicken.


Swing Wine Bar

825 Columbia SW



Print Friendly, PDF & Email