SITTING atop its hill, overlooking the border of Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, Brill is a village worthy of its name.

The place is a gem – one of those places which could have been dreamt up by a Hollywood set designer seeking a stereotypical image of an English village – with pubs, shop, green and even its own windmill, perched on the very edge of a ridge surrounded by rolling meadow and farmland.

But the thing that really makes Brill brilliant is The Pointer. This is a textbook example of a well-run gastropub.

A popular locals’ bar, villagers pop in for pints of good local ale (the XT brews from nearby Long Crendon are always excellent), while round the back, past a buzzing kitchen (you can poke your head through the hatch if you’re brave enough) is a gorgeous cosy restaurant, serving fabulous food, with many of the ingredients – vegetables, herbs and, best of all meat – sourced by owners David and Fiona Howden from just a couple of miles away, on their farm in neighbouring Ludgershall.

It is also an award-winning hotel, with rooms over the road in a renovated redbrick cottage.

The secret being well and truly out, The Pointer has been named by the 2018 Michelin Pub Guide as its Pub of the Year – which seemed an excellent excuse to go back and soak up its atmosphere... and great cooking.

I took with me my two young sons – far from foodies – in an attempt to instil an appreciation of food which doesn’t come from a fast food counter while you wait. And, as a treat, we decided to stay overnight.

We turned up on a particularly soggy winter’s night in a biblical rainstorm and checked into our room – the lads hogging the large bouncy double bed while I made do with a folding bed – but that’s just the selfless kind of person I am (cough!)

The room was large – Tardis like given the intimate proportions of the place – yet cosy and trendily minimal in that bang-on-trend rural-chic style; all grey and white tones with exposed oak beams, sturdy wooden furniture, potted plants and sweet little country touches.

There were even proper wellies by the door, should we fancy a walk to the windmill (perhaps in the morning we decided, lazily, if the weather turned. It didn’t).

A good hour was spent relaxing, watching television wrapped in down duvets (them) and reading while drinking coffee courtesy of a much-appreciated Nespresso machine (me), while making good use of the free wifi – until, with tummies rumbling and the expectation of great things to come, we prised ourselves up for the hop over the road – and an unusually cheery welcome in the pub.

We were sat at a large table with acres of elbow room at the back, and set to the task of choosing from the ever-changing menu.

While the menu is wide ranging, you’d be a fool to come out here and not try the meat, particularly that hand-reared pork and beef.

Among the best things The Pointer does is among its most simple – home-baked bread served not with butter but with beef dripping. They are mini torpedoes of loveliness; rich sandy brown in colour and absolutely bursting with flavour. It took serious will power not to fill up on that meaty nectar and fresh bread alone (the same was on offer at breakfast the next morning – for a real savoury wake-up).

Advised not to leave without trying something piggy, I started with Pointer Farm Pork terrine (£8). This was satisfyingly firm with a good bite and was served with an exceptionally sharp piccalilli (a little too tart for my tastes) and, showing real flare, a light apple and sage muffin.

We then all mucked in with a sharing platter of grilled Longhorn rib-eye steak, again from their farm (a hefty £60 but worth every bit of it).

It came with chunky chips cooked in that same dripping – giving them a delicious savouriness and exceptional crispness, as well as onion rings and Bearnaise sauce.

It was, I have to admit, divine and every bit as richly flavoured and succulent as I hoped.

Defeated, there was no room for pudding – and just enough energy to crawl over the road and sink into those heavenly beds.

In the morning we trotted back over the road for breakfast in the light, airy bar.

While the youngest tucked into wedges of bread coated in Nutella the other and I set ourselves up for the day with one of the best full English breakfasts I'd had for a while – crowned by exceptional sausages.

The weather was still wet and the going soft, but the tea hot and the welcome warm. The windmill will have to wait until next time – which should be very soon.

Like I said: Brill!


Pointer, Brill

01844 238339 thepointer

* Rooms cost from £130 per night.