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  • Writer's pictureMiddle Peninsula Planning District Commission

More Than Just Food at The Table at Wilton

It’s not just food with a local flavor at The Table at Wilton. So much of the cuisine from the Deltaville restaurant is served with a story.

Credit Rosa Payne, the great grandmother of chef/owner Helen Ward for the curried chicken salad that comes on a freshly baked croissant. The fixings with Mrs. Payne’s Fried Chicken include collards with pancetta and a buttery mac cheese.

The fried fresh shucked oysters for the Kevin Wade hoagie – named for a mentor to Ward – were harvested from the York River. The greens for the Wilton Salad come from local farms.

“We really take pride in all our ingredients and where they’re from and how they’re sourced,” said Ward, a native of nearby Hartfield, population 1,445. “We really try to get local grass-fed beef; we get our eggs from a local farm. We do a lot of staple sandwiches. We shave our own Philly and ribeye. Our Italians, we cut our own meat. We have three farms we get produce from.”

Classically trained at Johnson & Wales, Ward grew up learning to cook from both grandmothers. After working in multiple Virginia Beach restaurants, she returned to her roots to start her own business. What began as a catering company in 2011 evolved into a fine dining establishment by 2015.

An ice cream/bakery, The Table To-Go, across the street from the main restaurant, sells homemade ice cream and features a milkshake of the week. Who doesn’t want to sample fresh s’more donuts with toasted marshmallow and graham cracker crumbs?

“We have a great local base, but really it’s summertime that’s do or die,” Ward said. “You have to conform to when folks want to eat and what they want to eat.”

The warmer months typically bring the sail community out as the riverside vacation homes fill up.

“In March, we were gearing up for a great summer,” Ward said.

Then COVID-19 hit, forcing The Table to eliminate in-house dining until restrictions were lifted. All the weddings on the books for catering were scrapped.

A grant from the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission will provide much-need relief. The Back to Business grant offer reimbursement of expenditures that specifically address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Businesses can apply more than once – but only one time for each round. The deadline for the final round of 2020 grants is Nov. 15.

Grant funds will reimburse Ward for her patio furniture investment. When in-person dining resumed, Ward had The Table ready.

Six two-top tables and two picnic tables allow for at least 20 diners. New planters and lights create a cozier feel. New fans kept everyone cool during the summer’s warmest days.

Sanitation, of course, remains a priority. Ward goes through reams of copy paper given every new customer chooses from a freshly printed menu.

“We’re in crazy times, so every little bit that has come our way — we are so grateful,” Ward said. “It helped the bottom line a lot.”

Online ordering, only talked-about pre-pandemic, is now a means of survival for The Table. “Curbside saved us,” Ward said, and she assures it’s here to stay. She also promises to expand the ice cream offerings, noting how food is comfort, especially these days.

“I do think we provide Deltaville with really wholesome food that we take pride in to make great and from scratch,” Ward said. “A lot of people would be devastated if we left, and I don’t want to go anywhere.”

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