South of the tracks and around the corner from the downtown skate park is the Annex Coffeehouse and Bakery. Ben and Krystal Harman are once again doing a kickflip on the food scene here in Billings, having expanded into the space next to their Fieldhouse café on Minnesota Avenue.
With pastry chef Jeffrey Birkholz-Wilkerson in the kitchen baking nearly 30 different items a week, he knows enough tricks to have something on deck for everyone.
In the renovated exposed-brick building featuring tall windows looking to the train track corridor, urban chic intermixes with Billings’ past.
My BITES: lemon cayenne glazed doughnut and the crumpet. Yin and yang. One filled with pizzazz and the other exuding rustic comfort. I sank my teeth into a moist and chewy doughnut topped with puckering lemony sweetness. Seconds later, the back of my mouth warmed with the swaddling spice.
I washed the doughnut down with an espresso made with “Throttle” beans roasted from Revel Coffee, but not before an accompanying tassé of sparkling water cleansed my palate.
Next came the crumpet. Akin to English muffins, only more rustic, Birkholz-Wilkerson developed these for Cody Ringo, owner of the Ember Food Co. food truck, who wanted something he could use for breakfast sandwiches. They concocted a bready muffin—sourdough starter, whole-wheat, rye flour and ground flax seed—molded in a tuna can and cooked on the griddle. Homemade jam would make this a ripper.
Birkholz-Wilkerson most recently served as the kitchen supervisor at Passages, working with students in the Culinary Arts Program. He brought in Julie DeShazer, a June graduate, who now works as the morning supervisor.
Production begins at 2 a.m. for the banana sourdough muffins, orange rolls, devil’s food cupcakes, croissants, coconut-tahini-cocoa nibs power bars, ham and cheese hot pockets and much more.
The deep-colored charcoal sourdough sans smoky flavor made with bamboo charcoal is a popular seller (and happens to be something Ed Kemmick is addicted to).
The Annex Coffeehouse and Bakery
2601 Minnesota Ave., Suite 4
Next BITE, when I cruise south of downtown again: a cinnamon roll.