THE expression chequered history has oft been applied to pubs that have struggled.

Owners, landlords and managers arrive in a spring blossom burst of outrageous optimism and enthusiasm only to quickly fade and then be swept away by the first harsh wind that comes along.

The pub in Husthwaite, just off the A19 between Thirsk and Easingwold, is just such an establishment.

On the face of it, a pub here should do well. It is a most handsome village.

But then most villages round here are. Think of its neighbour Carlton Husthwaite, or Crayke, Coxwold and Ampleforth. Picture-postcard charm in abundance – and good pubs too.

Fifteen years ago the pub in Husthwaite changed its name from the ultra-traditional Blacksmith’s Arms it had been known by for over a century to The Roasted Pepper.

It served tapas before tapas became really fashionable. It was great. We said so but also wondered whether such a specialist offering, good as it was, would survive in deepest rural North Yorkshire.

And so it proved. The Roasted Pepper was sadly shortlived. Over the next decade and a half the place went through various incarnations and no fewer than five changes of name and a two-year period when it was closed.

During this chequered tale, The Roasted Pepper became almost as improbably The Balmoral (apparently after the massive pile at the end of Princes Street in Edinburgh!). The Balmoral became The Orchard, then The Curious Plum and then The Plum and Partridge.

Finally, in 2019 it became a Tomahawk Steakhouse, one of a number that year that has mushroomed across the North-East and North Yorkshire, from Ponteland to York. In the face of Covid-19 another recently opened in what was Acklam Hall, Middlesbrough and “coming soon” one in super-hip Hoxton, East London.

So it appears to a formula that’s working so perhaps this will be the end of the Husthwaite pub’s long-running identity crisis.

We’ve been to Tomahawks at Potto, formerly the Dog and Gun, which was, I think, the very first one and last year to the one in Darlington town centre’s Feethams leisure complex. Oh hang on, it’s not called Feethams anymore having been re-branded the rather more on-trend DL1. There’s a bit of a theme emerging here isn’t there?

Identity politics aside, we enjoyed our visits to both, particularly the Darlington Tomahawk where the macho warehouse vibe and funky music seemed to work best with the no-nonsense Meat is King offering.

The array of steaks on offer in all Tomahawks is almost bewildering. From your ‘humble’ flat iron, sirloin, rib-eye and fillet, the range increases in size, price and variety up to Porterhouse, Chateaubriand and, of course, Tomahawk.

Then there’s a range of wagyu steaks – rump, rib-eye, sirloin and fillet – and, a recent addition, another range of steaks from Hereford cattle butchered by Tom Hixson, a butcher based at Smithfield Market in London.

There’s lots of other meat dishes available too – including coronary-inducing parmos – a little fish, seafood to do the surf ‘n turf thing and, rather amazingly, a vegetarian/vegan menu too.

Now given that the very existence of Tomahawk Steakhouse seems to be an unequivocal statement of undying loyalty to the carnivore cause and a two-finger salute to those who favour a plant-based diet, this is a generous gesture. It’s also more extensive– seven starters, four mains – than one might expect.

But we ate steak. A 10oz medium rib-eye for Sylvia and a 12oz medium rare sirloin. Priced at £23.95 and £25.95 respectively with an additional £2 for some garlic and herb butter, this is expensive even with the choice of two side dishes included.

But they were good. The Himalayan salt dry-ageing process all the steaks served here endure does make for exceptionally tender and well-flavoured meat. It’s also cooked exactly as ordered.

Where things went slightly awry was the side dishes.

Smothering broccoli with spicy chimichurri sauce is a dumb idea. The sauce was great but the broccoli just added texture with any flavour swamped by the fiery chilli.

It was the same with the coleslaw which is considerably enlivened with sriracha but overall there was just too much spice about which you could say was our fault because it was clearly flagged on the menu.

Beef dripping chips seemed a bit overcooked and a baked potato was, err, a baked potato.

We suspect that as the steaks are generally pretty huge not many people bother with starters. We did share a hummus board (£7.95) – hummus, olives, balsamic and olive oil, picked vegetables and sourdough – which was excellent but desserts were absolutely out of the question. They looked exceptionally calorific.

Our total bill – with a couple of glasses of wine and a couple of soft drinks and an “optional” ten per cent service charge which we were happy to pay – came to £83.71.

Tomahawk Steakhouse

Low Street, Husthwaite, North Yorkshire

Tel: 01347 868642 Web:

Open for food: 9am-9pm Monday to Thursday, 9am-9.30 Friday and Saturday, 9am-8pm Sunday.

Ratings (out of ten): Food quality 8, Service 7 Surroundings 7, Value 8