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Check in: the permaculture farm backed pub that's top of the pops

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Georgina Wilson-Powell

22 October 2017

Pubs with rooms are ten a penny now in the British countryside. You can’t throw a horseshoe without hitting one. But The Pointer really takes the concept out for a spin and shows what can be done, if backed by a permaculture farm, a food obsessed team and a commitment to keeping things local. The Sunday Times certainly thought the same as we do, they’ve named it their Hotel of the Year 2017. Not bad going considering the pub only added the ‘with rooms’ bit back this summer. Grab your wellies and let’s go.

So what’s The Pointer really like?

The Pointer Review Pebble Magazine2

Stay in a converted red brick cottage that overlooks the pretty pub in Brill

The rooms

A few months ago The Pointer expanded to offer rooms, which opens up the proceedings to folk who want a weekend away and the lucky locals now have to share this picturesque watering hole with out of towners. The rooms, over the road from the pub, are in a converted red brick cottage but feel like an easy extension of the pub. Soft greys tones and luxurious linen soothes the mind, while the enormous bathroom with freestanding bath cries out for a long weekend linger. Homemade biscuits, local milk in glass bottles and a decent coffee machine are all little things that add up to a memorable stay.

And actually, being over the road is a good thing. Too many pubs with rooms inflict late night bar chat on those sleeping above.

The views

Brill’s the kind of village that could double as a quaint English film set (and was the inspiration for Bree in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings). The Pointer sits almost slap bang in the middle of the village, on its own triangle of land and there’s a pretty, flagstoned pub garden out the back. Head out of Brill in any direction and be met by rolling hills, small flocks of sheep grazing and hearty people out on healthy country walks.

The service

While The Pointer is most definitely a proper pub, with a restaurant in an attached barn, the service is better than some restaurants gunning for a star. Napkins are picked up and folded the moment you vacate your seat, water glasses are refilled without a fuss and there’s the right balance of attentiveness and just being left to it. Balance is actually what The Pointer is all about - it has a rustic soul but one that appreciates the sophistication of the city.

The menu

This is pub grub done spectacularly well. Seasonal is just a way of life here and the menus change depending on what comes from the family’s farm. Over 70 types of fruit, veggies, herbs and spices make their way from the patchwork Pointer farm to the pub but also the meat here is given proper attention. There’s a butchers on site, the beef, lamb and pork is all reared organically with plenty of care and pride.

A starter of longhorn beef tartare rivals Mayfair equivalents but the line caught Cornish mackerel dish with pickled fennel, dill and lemon is the absolute standout. Mains are a little more traditional, suckling pig for two is what the pub’s become known for but the rare breed longhorn rib eye is tender, juicy and served with the kind of beef dripping chips you dream about.

It’s worth mentioning that a beef dripping butter with homemade sourdough bread kicked off the meal, and is still talked about in the office. If they could manufacture and package it, it would be to Marmite, what Fever Tree is to Schweppes.

Breakfast is a bountiful affair, with lashings of homemade granola, more sourdough, local yoghurts, a Bloody Mary kit and thoughtfully, Berocca and paracetamol. It’s a given that if you’ve stayed the night, you’ll have had a good time.

The Pointer Review Pebble Magazine15

Tuck into a breakfast that could last until lunchtime

The bar

For all its foodie fabulousness, The Pointer is still very much a pub. Locals use it as much as weekend breakers and the bar is cosily broken into several clusters of seating areas. There’s a roaring fire and it’s decorated with seasonal bits and pieces - think multi-coloured gourds and pheasant feathers this October.

The sustainable bit

Now this is where it gets interesting. The family behind The Pointer have spent two decades building up a permaculture farm that is spectacular. From rare breed, prize winning animals which are carefully reared to rescued battery farm chickens, it’s a proper working farm rather than a vanity project but the kitchen garden, with its carefully arranged rows of veg and beautiful hedges (grown with the family over 20 years), is like something out of Country Living. That’s not knocking it - it’s both fabulous and fabulously productive. The family are always looking for new ideas and ways to close the loop between pub and farm and also work with local schools to educate kids on what food really looks like.

The pub also offers a service called Pints for Produce. Anyone can pop in with their locally grown veg or foraged finds and swap it for beer. The pub gets super fresh local produce and adapts the menu accordingly, the locals get free booze. Now that’s a good barter.

3 reasons to book The Pointer in Brill

The Pointer showcases what’s possible when there’s a focus on local ingredients grown organically.

While it’s an award-winner, there’s little posh pretense here. Get stuck in - to the food, the wine, the country vibe and enjoy it for what it is.

There are plenty of spots for a long walk to blow away the cobwebs the next morning. Head up to 17th century Brill Mill to start out.

Where is The Pointer

Find The Pointer in Brill, Buckinghamshire.

Free Wifi? Yes
Dog friendly? Yes
Child friendly? Yes

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