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Best of Olympia 2014 Food and Drink: Best Desserts - Bearded Lady Food Co.

Its evening menu has just one section: desserts

BEARDED LADY FOOD CO.: Fancy desserts in a casual, eclectic atmosphere. PHOTO CREDIT: WINTER TEEMS

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Bearded Lady Food Co. is not your typical eatery: It's open only three days a week, and its evening menu has just one section: desserts.

People like it that way: Our readers again chose the restaurant Olympia's best place for desserts.

You can get such staples as cupcakes, ice cream and cookies - all made from scratch - but the specialty of the house is plated desserts, elaborate creations such as a chocolate cup filled with vanilla-bean pudding, red velvet cake, cherry sauce and white chocolate whipped cream with salted pistachio. (That dessert, from the current menu, is gluten free. There are vegan options, too.)

The plated desserts are something you might find at a too-fancy-for-Olympia restaurant. But Bearded Lady's atmosphere is decidedly casual eclectic, and the late-night clientele tends toward the downtown hipster type.

The decidedly different menu and hours are the result, quite simply, of what pleases owners Jordan Marsicek and Melanie Shelton, both graduates of South Puget Sound Community College's baking and pastry arts program.

Marsicek is a confirmed night owl, so the weekend-evening schedule suits her perfectly. And when the couple started the business, both had day jobs.

As for the menu, the plated desserts are something the couple enjoyed creating for galas at SPSCC.

"It was so much fun to have all those different components coming together and all those different textures and flavors coming together," Marsicek says. "And I liked that you had to do it very quickly."

"And it's what we love to eat, too," Shelton adds.

The restaurant opened in fall 2010. The business got its start a year before that, when the couple purchased recipes and wholesale accounts from Karen McSwain, who operated the Blue Lotus Cafe in the same location.

The couple added weekend brunch last year, including such items as vegan sweet-potato biscuits, gluten-free latkes and, for something completely different, house-cured meats. (Marsicek still doesn't work the morning shifts.)

Perhaps because of the business's unusual hours, people are still discovering it.

"Even though we are half a block off the main street, people are like, ‘I didn't know you existed,' " Shelton says.

Even if you've never been to the Bearded Lady, though, you might have enjoyed some of the baked goods, which are available at both Olympia Food Co-op locations and at restaurants and coffee shops. Marsicek and Shelton also take custom orders for cakes and cupcakes, with gluten-free and vegan items the biggest sellers.

The couple's penchant for doing things their way began with the business' name.

"We were looking for something different, something that would stand out and would be remembered," Shelton says.

"And would be kind of funny," Marsicek adds.

"It does have a personal note, because I do have a beard," Shelton says. "I felt like embracing that and giving it visibility and saying, ‘Hey, we're different, but you're going to love us anyway.'" 412 Franklin St., Olympia

LINK: Best of Olympia 2014

LINK: Best of Olympia 2013

LINK: Best of Olympia 2012

LINK: Best of Olympia 2011

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