OVER the years I’ve come across all sorts of pub conversions. Traditional country hostelries that tried every cuisine under the sun to re-invent themselves and to stand out in a competitive market.

Many a struggling inn has been turned into an Indian, Thai or Chinese restaurant and my personal favourite for incongruity was the village pub near Easingwold that became a tapas restaurant (sadly short-lived) long before the current enthusiasm for Spanish small plates swept the nation.

The Dog and Gun at Potto, near Hudby Rudby, was a conventional gastropub until earlier this year. It has recently re-opened as the Tomahawk Steakhouse, the latest venture from businessman Howard Eggleston, the man behind the Lotus Lounge in Yarm and The Boat Club in Durham.

Before going further I should say I have crossed swords with Mr Eggleston in the past. He took exception to my review of his Yarm establishment a few years ago after I had taken exception to being handed a menu and a torch to read it with. No, there hadn’t been a power cut. It was simply acknowledgement that the Lotus Lounge lighting was so low it was the only way to see what was on offer.

There were other things I didn’t like and Mr Eggleston didn’t like me saying so in the paper and he sent me an email that was, how can put this, somewhat intemperate and intimidating in a sweary, apoplectic way. I was amazed it reached me through the email server’s spam filter.

I don’t think Mr Eggleston will be sending me an email this time because I think he has got this about right. It’s all about the meat and it’s pretty damn fine.

Firstly, you don’t need a torch to read the menu. The refurbishment of the Dog and Gun has been carried out in some style and the lighting is spot on. There’s a lot of exposed brickwork, timber and the cow motifs are everywhere. Where’s the beef? Well it’s here, there’s no doubt about that.

Steaks – Porterhouse, Chateaubriand, flat iron, sirloin, fillet - are the centrepiece of the menu. There’s also “More Meat” in the shape of a chicken parmo and pork ribeye and, for the wimps, a couple of fish dishes.

We thought we would warm up for the main event by sharing a starter – the Tomahawk meat platter (£7.50), a selection of prosciutto, mortadella, salamis, marinated vegetables (courgette and aubergine), rocket, coleslaw, sourdough and an absolutely more-ish balsamic syrup, all sweet, sticky and honeyed. We scrapped up every last drop and asked how it was done (heat balsamic vinegar, add sugar, don’t let it boil, then just let cool and thicken).

The array of steaks includes the signature Tomahawk 32oz ribeye served on the bone “for sharing” and Yorkshire Wagyu sirloin, from a herd of the Japanese beef cattle reared in the Wolds.

Sadly, at the end of the Easter holiday weekend, they were out of wagyu and we couldn’t face sharing 32oz of prime beef so Sylvia selected an “ordinary” rib-eye (£19.95) and I went for a Jacob’s Ladder rib steak on the bone (£16.50).

The vast majority of the steak is sourced from Country Valley Foods at Hurworth Moor who have a proven record of supplying top-notch heritage breed beef. All the beef is dry aged for a minimum of 28 days in Country Valley’s Himalayan salt brick chamber for optimum humidity. I don’t understand the science behind all this but it certainly works.

Sylvia’s rib-eye was every bit as juicy, well marbled, surprisingly lean, and immaculately cooked to medium as the menu promised it would be. With two sides included in the price, she chose the French fries and more of the chunky coleslaw we had with the starter.

My rib steak - half a kilogram, no less - had been slow cooked overnight in a “secret” marinade which served to intensify the flavour – think slow-roast ox cheek combined with Marmite – and tenderised the beef to a point where it fell off the bone like pulled pork.

It was served with more of that slaw, a spicy corn on the cob sprinkled with coconut (sounds bizarre, works incredibly well) and sweet potato fries.

We shared a light-as-a-feather sticky toffee pudding (£6) because we were curious about what jaffa cake ice cream tasted like (nice but nothing like jaffa cakes).

There were a lot of staff and we were largely looked after well but it became a little haphazard as the lunchtime crowd dissipated and the waiting staff started looking round for things to keep themselves busy and then lost track of who was meant to be looking after which diners.

The bill was £65. It included two soft drinks and two glasses of wine – a full-flavoured Chenin Blanc and a velvety Malbec. A word of warning on the wine measures which are a generous 175ml or 250ml (that’s a third of a bottle!).

The marketing blurb for the establishment describes the Tomahawk Steakhouse as fit “for the authentic meat connoisseur”. It fully justifies that billing.


Tomahawk Steakhouse, Butcher Lane, Potto, North Yorkshire, DL6 3HQ

Tel: 01642 700232

Web: www.tomahawk-steakhouse.co.uk

Open for food: Monday 5-9pm; Tuesday-Friday noon-2.30pm and 5-9pm; Saturday 9-9.30; Sunday 9-6pm.

Disabled access. Vegetarians? You’ve got to be kidding.

Ratings (out of ten): Food quality 9, Service 7, Surroundings 9, Value 7