It’s like entering a forgotten world, driving into Brill, framed by its historic windmill, Oxfordshire stretching away as far as the eye can see, it’s quaint higgledy-piggledy houses huddled together, as if frozen in time.

We meandered passed the old post office, court, police station, all now converted into homes. Brill Stores looks like the a shop from my grandparents era, as children laughed and ran down the streets like stars of a Hovis advert. All smack-bang in the middle of absolutely nowhere.

Geographically situated between Bicester, Aylesbury and Stanton St. John, Brill remains resolutely autonomous and alone.

An interesting choice then for Fiona and David Howden to open up The Pointer - not much passing trade, locals aside, bit risky.... but they have proved everyone wrong, plaudits and awards coming out of their ears.

I hadn’t been since they took it over, bordering Buckinghamshire as it does, and therefore a bit of a trek.

But news that it had been included in The Sunday Times Top 100 Restaurants for 2017, County Dining Pub of the Year in The Good Pub Guide 2018, and was also awarded a Four Star rating under its entry in the Guide, as well as Estrella Damm’s Top 50 Gastropubs. pricked up my ears.

Enormously carnivorous, with an onsite butchers, I opted for Sunday lunch as the safest bet and pitched up on a gloriously sunny day in October with the entire family in tow.

Ushered in through the charming bar, complete with huge comfy window seats and tables, we were lead to the dining room, past the open plan kitchen where the most enormous Yorkshire puddings were being carried out of the ovens, through to a more spartan set up. Mental note: book a bar side table in future.

It was lucky we had booked because the place was absolutely rammed, to the point that it was hard to hear yourself think.

Glancing though to the garden, where the sun was busy warming the outdoor diners, I asked it we might move outside, and within minutes our entire table had been relaid in the sunlight. It was heaven out there – crisp, clear and sunny – and the polite and professional staff served our drinks as we ate fresh home-made bread served with tiny pots of beef dripping to keep us going while we perused the menu.

Obviously roast was in the offing, but starters first - too good to resist.

We left the kids to enjoy the bread while we ordered the Pointer farm roasted parsnip soup with pumpernickel & parmesan crumb (£7) and the Clare Island smoked salmon, Cornish crab and fennel salad (a steep £13).

It wasn’t until it was served however, that the scales fell from my eyes, The Pointer’s reputation entirely well founded.

The soup came with a charcoal lid and and one had to sprinkle the contents into the potage, the salty parmesan and the crispy pumpernickle adding a crunchy texture, like chip scraps, to the soft, velvety soup, stopping me in my tracks. A moment.

Mr Greedy was tucking into the salmon contentedly, enjoying the generous portion, the subtle crab ball croquette, the fennel slicing through it all.

Stunned into submission, I sat back and waited for the next course like St Peter at the pearly gates.

Despite the offerings of fish, chicken and pork we all opted for the roast sirloin of Hereford beef, Yorkshire pudding stuffed with shin, beef dripping, roast potatoes and red wine jus (a hefty £24).

The accomplishment of the dish as a whole was immense - generous portions, well cooked beef, a marmitey jus, potatoes crisped like bullets but soft inside, whole roasted juicy carrots, served with some stunning vegetables, it was also a sum of its parts.

Take the accompaniment of al dente broccoli which came in tiny enamel pots with a scattering of bearnaise sauce flecked with tarragon and finished with crispy sliced almonds. It’s this attention to detail that makes The Pointer stand out, and I was sold.

My daughter, who recently turned vegetarian, tried the Isle of Wight heirloom tomato salad with burrata, kalamata olives, basil and rocket, as a main, a lovely doff of the hat to the end of summer and it’s harvest glut.

When the slurping and scraping of dishes had finished, we immediately pounced on the dessert menu: too good an opportunity in a restaurant of this calibre to pass up.

The sticky medjool date pudding with butterscotch sauce, milk & honey ice cream (£8) was a wonderful variation on the pub classic, the pear and blackberry almond tart was dense and moist, offset superbly by cider sorbet and set cream. The lemon meringue pie with lemon sorbet and lemon verbena puree however won hands down. Meticulous, piquant, soft, sweet, crunchy, mallowy - it was everything and more.

And as the shadows lengthened, we stretched our legs, by walking to the windmill before heading out of this magical kingdom where The Pointer reigns supreme.

The Pointer

27 Church St



HP18 9RT

01844 238339