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The content this piece was accurate at the time of writing.
I had never heard of Brill.
The word either meant Fab, Great, Brilliant, or it meant, "flat fish which has superb flavour". Until last Sunday.
A village not too far from both Bicester and Oxford also carries the name Brill.
Considering I spent three years at college in Oxford and more days than I would care to admit at the Bicester retail outlet park just a few miles away, its a surprise that I have never heard of it.
A fine destination in its own right, Brill is a picture perfect Olde English village complete with windmill and sunset views.
Owing to its growing reputation and stellar quality of the food at the Pointer Pub and Restaurant. Brill is now well and truly on the gastronomic map. Diners flock to the restaurant like the Bisto kids following the aroma of Mum’s gravy.
There’s no Bisto in this Chef’s cupboards.
Three AA Rosette Chef Mini Patel, who has recently been seen on BBC TV’s Great British Menu series compressing blackberries and burning mackerel with a blowtorch , works on the philosophy of prioritising fresh seasonal local ingredients for his menus. Many of these ingredients hail from the Pointer’s own gardens and farm. Longhorn Beef and Middlewhite Pork are a speciality.
The fruits of Mini’s labours delight not only the gastro tourists and regulars but also locals who pop in for a pint, some pork scratchings and a few slices of house made salami.
Sunday lunch is a fine tradition in this country, especially when weather turns cooler and the desire is to be indoors with a hearty plate of food and a heat source nearby. The Pointer ticks these boxes and more.
The place embodies all that is desired when heading out to spend hard earned cash on a meal out.
This is no accident, as anyone with passion who works in the hospitality industry will validate. It takes hours/days/months/years of effort and fine tuning to produce a product which becomes established as a favourite restaurant, bar, café or hotel. Once created it then takes a similar amount of effort to retain the consistency of those achievements. Little wonder there are so few which can do this.
The team at the Pointer have the passion and creativity to create a local pub restaurant and butchers shop which is appealing to not only them that want a £40 Sunday Lunch but also the locals who want a decent pint and some conversation.
Attention to detail is one of the strong points here where décor at the moment includes home grown gourds of many colours adorning any flat surface, including a giant of a pumpkin which sits on the bar asking customers to guess its weight. Attentive and sunny staff attend to guests in a manner I rarely see in most customer facing businesses (don’t get me started). And then there’s the food!
The menu (which can be seen on the restaurant’s website: http://www.thepointerbrill.co.uk/ ) has plenty to choose from. French classical descriptions such as Amuse Bouche, Pithiviers, petit fours etc etc are banned by Yorkshireman Mini who believes in calling a pie a pie!
Breads arrive in brown paper bags and platters of local butters, one made in house with beef goodness amongst other things. Swirls of thyme in one, sour yeasty scent from the other ensure that customers know this isn’t your average bread.
Chicken liver parfait pillows arrive with a citrus dust and marmalade of red onions and a smoky toast.
From this time on you know the attention to detail on not only flavour but visuals are a priority.
As mentioned the Pointer’s own farm produces prime grass fed Longhorn beef.
The Roast beef dinner sits at the top of the main course list in pride of place and although not as adventurous gastronomically as veal shin pie with crisp sweetbreads, can hold its own owing to quality of ingredients and the care given before the plate gets to its destination. Roast potatoes were some of the best I have ever had, no mean feat when cooking a menu which runs from 1.00pm to 5.00pm. Two were just not enough!.
Desserts can have less wow factor (or any part of a meal for that matter) when visiting a restaurant with a small team in the kitchen. This is because it’s up to the Head Chef’s knowledge and love of each topic to drive the quality in all areas.
Mini, thank goodness, is a pudding man, possibly down to his Yorkshire roots (get him a flat cap!) or just because he loves to cook them.
Puds at the Pointer entice diners with their masterful structures and precise positioning of flourishes. Promised flavours are delivered with every mouthful. My liquorice set cream had apple, honeycomb, wine, blackberry and probably five other flavours bouncing around my mouth.
And that’s not all. Order coffees or hot drinks after your meal and a procession of little sweet items arrive to accompany them: Madelines with a lemon curd dip, fantastic chocolate almond truffles rolled in pistachio and a variety of cookies. If we weren’t full before we were now at breaking point!
We often talk about “home from home” hospitality when staying in hotels or dining out.
It’s what we would like. But how many times does this actually happen?
The Pointer doesn’t disappoint in this department. It’s one of the few places I have visited where diners are actually waved off when they leave, just like would happen in our own homes.
How hard is that to do?
How many restaurants do it?
How much does it cost to do it?
What is the value of doing it………………….Priceless!