Tucked behind shopping centers in Liberty Park you’ll find a retreat-like wooden building, and at its base you’ll find a café with fresh breads made with fresh Montana wheat. Big Sky Bread Company has operated its bakery in the lower floor of the SmoothRock Center since it opened, and now that Shindigs has stopped operating the café next to it to focus on its Forest Park restaurant, the couple behind Big Sky is taking over SmoothRock Café too. “We came up with breakfasts and lunches we love and hope other people will too,” says Jeff Pierce, who runs the operation with his wife, Patti. Read on to learn more about what they are now offering weekdays for breakfast and lunch 7 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
What should we know about your menu?
Our whole drive is to use better ingredients and better dishes. Our family has been Conecuh sausage fans for a long time, so we started making a petite pizza covered with Conecuh, mozzarella, Vidalia onions and chunky tomatoes. We also have a pesto chicken pizza with grilled chicken. For now we use a naan bread as the base and bake it in a pizza oven, but we might do Big Sky dough in the future with a whole wheat or Italian dough.
One of our bakers had the idea to put pepper jelly in our pimiento cheese, and when I tried it, it was one of the most insane pimento cheeses I’ve ever had. Our chicken salad has fresh grilled chicken cut daily with pecans, grapes, celery and Greek yogurt to give it extra flavor. Our Cahaba River Club got its name from how behind the Smooth Rock building you can see a water way that flows into the Cahaba.
I could eat a salad every meal of my life, and our Big Sky Salad has spinach, dried cranberries, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), goat cheese, cucumbers and balsamic vinaigrette. It’s a good substantial salad.
What about breakfast?
For breakfast we have our Big Sky cinnamon rolls, Big Sky whole wheat pancakes and build-your-own omelets. Right now we are doing three muffins: lemon poppy seed, banana walnut and blueberry. When the bakery was in Mountain Brook Village, we did these whole what oat bran muffins that we will start making soon for the people who want more fiber and bran. We are doing specialty coffees like a latte and Americano, and we might expand that too.
Is there anything we can buy outside of your café hours?
We have a self-checkout are at the bakery if people come in for conferences or other events at the building. In the café after hours we will set it up as self-checkout too if people want a cookie or a muffin from our self-serve pastry case. We’ll have a big refrigerated case with grab-and-go premade sandwiches and salads too.
For anyone who isn’t familiar with your bakery products, can you give a brief primer?
We get high quality ingredients and real simple recipes. The wheat bread recipe has five ingredients and has been around thousands of years, and we sweeten everything with honey instead of using sugars and no preservatives. Our three-seed and old fashioned white breads are our most popular. It’s all based on wheat from Montana, the best wheat in the world based on its growing environment and high protein. We also do a honey-almond and a cranberry-almond granola, and we do a chocolate chip and an oatmeal rain cookie. We have done it all for 26 years now, and it’s what people love.
How would you describe the Smooth Rock building where you are housed?
People have called it a sophisticated tree house. To me it feels like a chalet in the Colorado mountains, away from Birmingham, with the tall ceilings and wood. It’s a really cool place to hang out. The outdoor area is great especially in the spring and fall. I think it’s still a hidden treasure that not many people know about but would certainly love.