“On a familiar route between my cabin and friends’ houses, the property always stuck out—towering on the corner, yet nothing appeared to be going on so it was somewhat of an enigma,” says says Inez Valk of what would become Table on Ten. “I made some inquiries, and it turned out the property was for sale, at which point an enigma became a mission,” The Catskills-dweller—by way of Brooklyn, by way of Holland—reminisces on the once crumbling property situated on Route 10 in the tiny town of Bloomville, New York—a place she transformed into a thriving restaurant and inn.
On the weekends, Table on Ten is filled with guests and restaurant patrons from the city, who not unlike Valk, seek out this secluded area of Delaware County. “There’s a complexity to life up here that belies the cliche of puttering along dirt roads, cultivating vegetables and chickens. Quietness and isolation mean there’s a lot of yourself to deal with. There’s no hiding, no retreating into the perpetual adolescence that the city offers,” says Valk. Her rustic inn, meticulously designed using raw materials and clean lines, furnished with handmade beds, a refurbished freestanding tub in the attic, and a reading nook complete with a collection of records to get lost in. At 60 miles west of the Hudson, those seeking peace and the low-key buzz of a local community going on about its day, find their place, and Inez is the gracious host that makes all feel right at home.
We at The Window had a firsthand account of this hospitality when we set out north to capture Inez in her element. The Pas De Calais collection was a clear choice for wardrobe. The luxuriousness of truly functional, comfortable clothes and sumptuous natural textiles reflect the harmony of running a modern grassroots business amongst the striking, pastoral setting. Unlike most shoots, our crew was treated to homemade meat pies (guinea hens from a neighboring farm), local wine, and cheeses on arrival. Not ones to refuse a hearty delicious meal, we chalked it up to research, and settled in to Table on Ten to experience Inez’s world.
“Delaware County is in a unique orbital when it comes to New York City. We’re not Hudson; we’re not Woodstock; we’re not the State Park. It was settled for tenant agriculture, and its roots are still in homesteading and farming; solitude, hard work, deep country, quiet,” Inez explains of the region’s lure. “Tourism is gentle and subtle. There’s no long list of glittering attractions, big festivals, mega antique roadshows… But an amazing collection of people have settled here, on the outer ring of New York’s gravitational pull. It’s unique. And it offers an opportunity for visitors to slip into the rhythms and cadences of the people who live here. It’s very personal.” The mentality of becoming one with not only the land but the small, hardworking community is part of what makes the Table on Ten restaurant a success. As part of the community, Inez caters to her fellow locals as much as she does her out of town visitors.
The love for turning out a delectable, shareable meal is illustrated in the success of Table on Ten’s pizza nights. Pizza—a modular, made-from-scratch, and quite simply, fun food has been a hit at the restaurant. After experiencing homemade pizzas from a wood-fire oven her friends built, Inez recognized the meal as the perfect melding of opportunity and need. “We’ve been doing pizza night for three years now and really it worked well right from the start. Strangely, for something so seemingly basic, there’s a lot of nuance and tweaking involved and it’s replete with possibility. Like a well-crafted haiku.” And her favorite pie on the menu? “I’d have to say the weekly special. Simply because it’s an opportunity to craft something emblematic of what’s here and now. In that sense, it’s the summation of the week on a sourdough circle,” says Inez, spoken like a diplomat to the land’s bounty but more importantly, to the guest at the table, the right answer when expecting a piping hot meal made with fresh, thoughtful ingredients.
While The Window team did not get to experience pizza night (we will be back to enjoy it this fall), we were treated to a skillet of eggs and fresh bread at our shoot call-time of dawn. The sound of roosters roused us first, then the scent of the above dish. Please note again, this is an anomaly on photo shoots, but one we could certainly get used to.
We like it here. It feels like home for our crew, if home equals wide open spaces, smells of fresh baked bread, and the comfort of a seasoned businesswoman in her fourth year of hospitality, functioning with ease and elegance. But for Inez, Table on Ten is not a place to get lost in time, but an open door for possibility. “Just when you think you know what’s around the corner, something barrels through the door and you’re off on a new tangent. There’s solid structure which appeals to my fundamental pragmatism richly veined with the unpredictable. It keeps me awake and learning.”
“I’m moving closer to a balance of life, work, and place that feels strong and energized, whereby they complement each other rather than gnawing at the edges,” contemplates the woman who describes her role as business owner, innkeeper, chef, and community nourisher as “always here.” It can be hard to not get consumed by what you do, especially without the distractions of urban life but Inez seems to be learning and growing with her business, surrounded by supportive friends and happy patrons who cheer her on.
The end of our day with Inez brings us to a pressing question ever since we noted the impressive record collection situated in the attic suite. Which ones would she choose for an hour of solitude? “Maybe something redolent of the area, romantic but hardscrabble. John Prine’s Bruised Orange, Townes Van Zandt’s Live at the Old Quarter. Or maybe the Chopin Nocturnes if you fancy something less site-specific.” A solid lineup to interrupt everyday life for a bit of meaningful calm.