Located in the twee village of Brill, in the Buckinghamshire countryside, The Pointer is a gastropub-come-restaurant with a butchers next door and four newly refurbished rooms across the road. The pub is winning every accolade possible at the moment, after being awarded Hotel of the Year by The Sunday Times and then Michelin Pub of the Year for 2018.
Opened a decade ago by partners David and Fiona Howden, The Pointer is focused around real homegrown produce. The owners also have a 250-acre farm in the next village, and alongside the Butcher’s and the four new bedrooms, they’ve really taken ‘keeping it local’ to the next level.
The village is famous itself, both as the inspiration for J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth village of Bree, supposedly based on this Buckinghamshire village, and legend has it that the Great Train Robbery was planned at The Pointer, before it became what it is today – and that it’s where the stolen money was divided up, too. The village is lovely with rolling hills, another pub down the road, and Brill Windmill.
Once inside The Pointer, it feels like home. And after we’d checked in at the bar, the lady took us across to our room in the building opposite.
The 18th-century Victorian terrace across the road from The Pointer comprises of four traditional yet modern bedrooms. Ours was on the ground floor, with large king-size bed, light and airey windows that were letting in lots of light, and a gorgeous bathroom at the back with freestanding bathtub and walk-in-shower.
The room was lovely, painted in shades of grey and white, with traditional patchwork style cushions, soft sheepskin rugs and wooden features throughout the room, adding a rustic touch. You also notice the dog-themed art hanging around the place, including not only pointers but also staffies and cocker spaniels.
Once we’d settled in, we headed out in to the village for a quick walk before dinner.
Then, once we had freshened up, we headed back across the road to the pub. The restaurant is in a converted barn past the open kitchen, with a vaulted ceiling, garlanded beams and exposed stone. It is a room which could feel really cold and empty, due to the high ceilings, but in fact felt cosy and had a great atmosphere.
As we sat down they bought us our drinks and a paper bag of sourdough with beef-dripping butter (posh Marmite). This is a lovely surprise, as was the pre-starter of ham hock terrine and hake arancini.
Food is prepared by Sebastian Bielecki, the Polish head chef, and served by an array of wonderful staff. A lot of the produce from the Howdens’ farm features on the menu, including lamb, beef, chicken liver and asparagus — as do snacks such as Scotch eggs and hummus.
My starter of Beetroot and Pear Salad with Goat’s Curd was stunning, leaving a super-fresh feeling on my tastebuds, whilst Theo opted for the Confit Organic Salmon with Pearl Barley and Watercress Petro. The salmon was delicate whilst the pesto added a nutty texture to the dish.
For mains I opted for the Slow Roast Pointer Farm Middle White Suckling Pig, with Parsnips, Kale, Haricot Beans and Scrumpy Sauce, which is reared on the pub’s farm and was incredible, full of flavour and the pork was next-level. Theo went for the Grilled Pointer Farm Longhorn Beef Rib Eye Steak, with Chips, Garlic Mushrooms and a striking Bearnaise Sauce. The Ribeye was full of flavour, with good marbling and one of the best he’s ever had, apparently! We didn’t go for it, but there was a Longhorn Beef Wellington on the menu for two people, and it looked divine!
Then to finish we shared the Caramel & Hazelnut Parfait with Chocolate and Nougat, which Theo ate most of, as I couldn’t technically have dairy.
We tried more of their wonderful produce at breakfast, including middle white sausages, eggs, bacon and black pudding. There is a sidetable of cold items, such as yoghurt, fruits, croissants, homemade bread and jams, and bloody mary mix.
And if you don’t fancy dining, the butchers next door, open on specific days, stocks a delightful array of Scotch eggs, charcuterie, cuts of lamb, steaks, chutneys, horseradish sauces, ales, and pork pies, with most produce coming from the farm owned by The Howdens.
I had a wonderful visit to Brill and The Pointer, and despite only being 30 miles from home, I felt like I had escaped. I returned home feeling relaxed, at ease and ready for another mad week at work!
Id like to dedictate this post to Theo’s family dog Marley who died last year. WE MISS YOU MARLEY!
The Pointer, 27 Church St, Brill, Bucks HP18 9RT – www.thepointerbrill.co.uk
*I was invited to visit The Pointer at Brill, but as always opinions are my own.