The Pointer is an award-winning restaurant, pub and butchers in the heart of Brill, Buckinghamshire.
On a dark autumnal evening, we made our way along the winding roads of Buckinghamshire to the hill-top village of Brill, a typically English sweet spot said to have inspired the fictional village of Bree in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth.
The Pointer is a gorgeous country pub and restaurant, dating back to the 1700s. In 2011, David and Fiona Howden bought the property, and transformed it into an integrated ‘farm to fork’ (or butcher’s basket) business that we see today. Wherever possible, the produce is supplied by the Pointer’s own farm and estate, which is overseen by Stockman Jamie Brewer and Estates Manager, Paul Gough.
Today the farm spans over 150 acres, and cultivates a 120-strong herd of pedigree Longhorns, 7 Middle White sows, 3 Tamworth Kune Kune cross sows, 1 pure Tamwoth sow, 3 Pure Kune Kune sows and 1 middle White and 1 Kune Kune Boar. They also have 30 Hampshire Down sheep and 50 free-range chickens for eggs as well as Indian Runner ducks and a swarm of bees.
Paul also grows and cultivates vegetables and kitchen garden herbs throughout the year to keep the kitchen well stocked with the freshest produce from their extensive vegetable gardens.
Much like a hobbit myself, I’m obsessed with eating and drinking. On entering the Pointer, the first thing that caught my eye was the great range of local ales on offer (Vale Brewery – Brill; Rebellion – Marlow; and Hook Norton – Cotswolds), alongside a local cider (3C’s – Herefordshire) and the Pointer Pint, their collaboration with local brewers, XT Brewing Company, which is served on tap.
After a drink at the bar, and the opportunity to guess the weight of an absolutely ginormous farm-grown pumpkin that stood proudly atop it, we were led through to the dining room – an elegant space overlooking the garden with knarled wood beams, garlands of pheasant feathers and artwork by Robert James Clarke on white-washed walls. Colourful farm flowers were dotted throughout and clumps of small gourds, also from the farm, made handsome table decorations.
From start to finish, the food was a fantastic showcase of British produce. The Pointer’s Head Chef, Mini Patel and his team serve simple British classics with creative twists, all cooked and presented beautifully. A lovely touch was the homemade bread, served in a paper bag with local hand churned butter and beef dripping.
An amuse bouche of spicy sausage and sweetcorn with pomegranate jus was followed by a starter of charred Cornish mackerel for me, and cannelloni of slow-cooked Longhorn beef for my companion. The mackerel was served with tartare, beetroot, horseradish and cucumber and proved to be deliciously delicate. The cannelloni was tender and succulent, and set the bar high for meaty mains to come.
Duo of Fallow deer from Buckinghamshire followed. Served two ways: slow-cooked faggot and roast loin, it was rich and flavoursome and perfectly complimented by parsnips, red cabbage, savoury granola and cardamon gravy. My companion opted for the Pointer Farm Middle White pork, served with grilled Gem lettuce, beetroot and scrumpy sauce. Here, the pork was also served in two ways – succulent loin accompanied by a hearty sausage roll.
There was just enough room to squeeze in afters. We opted for the warm chocolate pudding, which was dark, gooey, served with plump blackcurrants and bitter chocolate snap and the cheese slate, which presented great hunks of British greats including Spenwood, College White, Hereford Hop, Cerney Ash, Oxford Blue and my particular favourite, Stinking Bishop.
Boasting beaming service, admirable ethics and seriously good, simple cooking, the Pointer is definitely a destination restaurant well worth the journey to the Shire.
The Pointer, 27 Church Street, Brill, Buckinghamshire, HP18 9RT
01844 238339; firstname.lastname@example.org