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November 8, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
The scent of maplewood smoke wafts through the tunnel on the Katy Trail at the far end of Rocheport.
Tucked away beneath a large, old mulberry tree laced with wind chimes is the Mulberry Grill & Bakery, a small red building and patio about 200 feet from the trailhead. Some might miss it if it weren’t for the alluring aroma of European-style pizza baking in the outdoor wood-burning oven.
Bruce Henson says the pace of hikers and bikers along the trail slows as they approach his backyard, which was converted into a grill and bakery this past June. Situated along Montineau Creek and near the Diana Bend Conservation Area, the location is ideal for a petite, serene food-and-drink service. Crimson brick lines the patio, wrought iron furniture sits outside and twinkling lights dangle from the overhead canopy. The décor, set in a woodsy backdrop, complements the quaint charm of the bistro.
The quaint bistro in Rocheport is a pitstop along a trail rather than a road. Customers can order pizzas cooked from a wood-burning stove, baked treats and domestic brews. Photo courtesy of Mulberry Grill & Bakery.
Henson, co-owner of the family-owned restaurant, says the atmosphere of the little nook relies on the natural, peaceful feel of its surroundings and the nostalgia that arises from such a rural, quaint town.
Henson says that his son’s artisan ciabatta bun sandwiches motivate customers to make the trek to Mulberry. Sandwich options include lime salsa chicken, seasoned chicken and steak and cheese.
Henson built the wood-burning oven, which sits adjacent to the seating area, by following an Internet tutorial. Custom pizzas quickly bake in the 300- to 500-degree heat. Cheese bubbles and sauce sizzles while the pizzas soak up the smoke’s flavor for less than a minute. When Henson slides them out of the oven with his pizza peel, he chuckles and says that this won’t taste like the typical take-out pizza. As he walks back to his booth, he casually mentions that he just made chocolate chip cookies, if anyone is interested.
As scents of freshly baked cookies and loaves of bread waft through the air, it would be hard to worry about much of anything on this tranquil scene at the edge of the Katy Trail.
Henson says the family isn’t as concerned about the recession affecting their sales as they are about deciding when to close the restaurant for the winter and pick up the catering side of the business. Nevertheless, he says closing time will completely depend on the weather, and that time will come when it comes.