The Pointer at Brill
It’s not every day someone takes over a village pub and gets it absolutely right, but occasionally it happens – and that's exactly the story with The Pointer at Brill. There are many reasons to consider this as a brilliant place for a break from London. First of all, it's not far to come – not much more than an hour by car from certain parts of north London; it's situated in a pretty hilltop village that has not one but two village greens and is at the centre of a number of relatively undemanding country walks; it could even be a nice base for Oxford, which is a short drive away, and shopaholics can get their fix at nearby Bicester shopping village. Last but not least, the food they serve is worth the trip out of town on its own – though thankfully it's also a venue for drinkers as well as diners, and they have recently added four guest rooms in a cottage right across the street.
Owned by a local farming family, the Howdens, for the past five year, The Pointer is a pure field-to-fork place to eat, with 3 well-deserved AA rosettes and a short, always-changing menu that is deliberately focused on produce from the farm – rare breed beef and pork, suckling pig and lamb and fresh seasonal veg; they even have their own butcher’s shop next door. It’s all beautifully presented and the service fab, with an emphasis on high quality fresh ingredients, and above all taste: dishes are both big and hearty but also refined, from beef dripping butter and sourdough bread through a superb charcuterie plate to succulent new season lamb and fabulous beef rib-eye, served with perfectly done triple-cooked chips. They also always have a couple of fish dishes on the menu for non-meat-eaters, usually including traditional fish and chips, and the nice thing is the menu changes often enough to make it worth coming back regularly – which, believe me, you will want to do.
As for the rooms, they are stylishly decorated in a rustic yet contemporary fashion, with exposed beams, soothing greys and creams on the walls, big comfy beds and good wifi, Freeview TVs and lots other goodies – Nespresso coffee-makers, tea, biscuits and fresh milk and still and sparkling water in a thoughtfully provided fridge on the ground floor. They have roomy bathrooms, with robes, nice toiletries and powerful rainfall showers that you won’t want to get out of – and the two downstairs bedrooms also have free-standing baths. Dogs are allowed in the ground floor rooms and get a bed, treats, etc, and are allowed in the bar (where you can eat the same menu as the restaurant). Service is relaxed and classy throughout, from check-in to dinner through to breakfast, with staff who not only know what they’re doing but seem to enjoy it quite a lot too!
All in all it's difficult to fault as a venue for hard-pressed Londoners looking to spoil themselves with a relaxing break, late mornings and food of the highest order straight from the farm.
Double rooms from £160 a night including breakfast.
Open all year.
Eight nicely furnished, cosy double rooms with spacious en-suite bathrooms.
The Pointer at Brill, 27 Church Street Brill Buckinghamshire HP18 9RT
From London and the M25, you can either approach via the M40 (junction 19) or the A41 (junction 20) via Aylesbury. Take junction 7 off the M40 an follow the A329, then take the B41011 to Brill. From junction 20 on the M25 it's about 17 miles to Aylesbury on the A41, beynd which you take the A418 towards Oxford, and then turn off to follow the road to Chilton and then finally Brill.
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