Buckinghamshire bolthole that has its own pub, farm and butcher’s shop
The Pointer takes “local” to the next level. The food comes from its own farm. The beer is brewed in the same village. And now punters have only to stumble over the road to bed. The pub’s owners recently bought the cottage opposite and have turned it into rooms.
The 18th-century two-up two-down now comprises four tasteful bedrooms. Ours was on the ground floor, and we were a little taken aback by the large windows giving directly on to the pavement – it’s not exactly private. Accidental exhibitionism aside, it is a lovely room: painted in shades of grey, with a sturdy sisal carpet and soft sheepskin rugs. A rough-hewn plank wardrobe and basket-weave lampshades add a rustic touch. The super-kingsize bed looked impressive, but was two singles pushed together – great if you want twin beds; annoying if you don’t.
The bathroom has a huge rain shower, slipper bath and dual sinks, and a view over the courtyard garden. The toiletries deserve special mention: fragrant Somerset brand Bramley, containing lavender, geranium and rosemary essential oils.
The pub was encouragingly busy for a Wednesday night. The bar, which dates from the 1700s, has nooks for lounging around the fire and stove, serves beer from Brill’s Vale and Long Crendon’s XT brewery, and has snacks such as mini scotch eggs (£5) and meat platters (£15). There are signs offering “pints for produce” – free beer in return for “homegrown or shot” food. The leafy beer garden backs on to the 12th-century village church.
The restaurant is in a converted barn past the open kitchen, with a vaulted ceiling, garlanded beams and exposed stone. The menu is short – three snacks, four starters, four mains – but almost impossible to choose from: everything sounds utterly delicious.
A paper bag of sourdough with beef-dripping butter (posh Marmite) was an extremely welcome surprise, as was the pre-starter of radishes with walnuts and sherry. We finally plumped for monkfish scampi with “saffron emulsion” from the snacks, and pork terrine from the starters (both £8). Our only quibbles were the size of the tiny “beer muffin” served with the big slab of pork, and the advertised crackling, which was more like piggy popcorn. For mains we had the rib-eye (£30) and the lamb: neck and shoulder with baby aubergine, ratatouille vegetables and goat’s curd (£28).
Again, it was tough to find anything to criticise. Cheese (£11) was served
The menu is short – four starters, four mains – but impossible to choose from: everything sounds utterly delicious
with excellent caraway and fennelseed flatbreads, and treacle tart (£8) was reminiscent of school-dinner cornflake pie, in a really good way.
OK, it’s not cheap. There is a more affordable set “farm menu” (£22.50 for three courses), but it comprises much simpler dishes – pea soup and sausage and mash.
The chef uses about 70 ingredients from the Pointer farm and kitchen garden, supplemented by other local producers and game estates, and fish from Brixham. In fact, owners Fiona and David Howden bought the pub in 2011 specifically to sell their farm’s produce. We tried more of it at breakfast, including middle white sausages, bacon and black pudding.
Dining is not the only way to sample the wares: the outbuilding next to the pub was recently converted into a butcher’s shop (the kitchen still gets first dibs). And there is a farmers’ market outside the pub on Saturdays, where villagers sell tomatoes, chutneys and cakes alongside the Pointer farm fare. It could just be the perfect local. • Food and accommodation were provided by the Pointer (doubles from £130 B&B, 01844 238339, thepointerbrill.co.uk). Train travel from London was provided by Bicester Village (bicestervillage.com)