Lo­cal hero

Buck­ing­hamshire bolt­hole that has its own pub, farm and butcher’s shop

The Guardian - Travel - - Front Page - Rachel Dixon

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)

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