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The Lifeboat Inn, Thornham, restaurant review: ‘My second visit there was lacklustre at best’

PUBLISHED: 09:27 13 September 2017 | UPDATED: 11:02 13 September 2017

Fish pie at The Lifeboat Inn. Picture: Taz Ali

Fish pie at The Lifeboat Inn. Picture: Taz Ali

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I remember going to the Lifeboat Inn three years ago and enjoying the best meal I’ve ever had. My boyfriend Witt and I went during the winter season and we loved the fresh mussels cooked in wine and cream so much we ordered them twice.

Th Lifeboat Inn at Thornham. Picture: Ian Burt Th Lifeboat Inn at Thornham. Picture: Ian Burt

Food

When the opportunity came for us visit the gastropub again we jumped at the chance, but our second visit there was lacklustre at best.

We ordered the smoked fish and shellfish platter to share, with smoked mackerel, smoked salmon, fishcakes, caper bread and crayfish tails. At least, that’s what it said on the menu. Halfway through the starter we realised there were no crayfish tails on the plate.

When the waitress went to investigate she told us the chef had simply forgotten. She apologised and knocked a few quid off the bill so we were glad the mistake was addressed, but we would have liked shellfish on our smoked fish and shellfish platter.

Seafood and shellfish platter (without the shellfish) at The Lifeboat Inn. Picture: Taz Ali Seafood and shellfish platter (without the shellfish) at The Lifeboat Inn. Picture: Taz Ali

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The starter didn’t work very well as a platter in the way antipasto does. The fish tasted good individually, perhaps a little plain, but did not complement one another.

The sauces - horseradish cream and dill crème fraiche – were delicious, but not generously supplied and curiously placed beneath the fish.

The fish cakes were more potato than fish by a significant margin.

The bread was soft and doughy, for which my gums were thankful, but too floury for Witt.

Sausage linguine at The Lifeboat Inn. Picture: Taz Ali Sausage linguine at The Lifeboat Inn. Picture: Taz Ali

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After the subpar starter, I ordered the Lifeboat’s fish pie whilst Witt went for the merguez sausage linguini with spinach and roasted squash, along with a bowl of hand-cut chips.

The fish pie was presented well enough but the linguini looked like something I would throw together at home.

The pasta was overcooked and the sliced sausages were sparse, but he said the flavour was pleasant and well balanced. The squash melded into the sauce without particularly taking away or adding anything.

The fish pie was more a fish stew with mash on top. I couldn’t taste the fish as the flavour of leek was overpowering the dish, I couldn’t eat anymore save a few bites.

Hand-cut chips at The Lifeboat Inn. Picture: Taz Ali Hand-cut chips at The Lifeboat Inn. Picture: Taz Ali

I went for the chips instead which were delicious, both crunchy and velvety and expertly seasoned with a coarse salt.

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I perked up when I spotted the mango mousse on the dessert menu as it’s one of my favourite flavours.

The mousse came with a scoop of watermelon sorbet and Witt’s chocolate terrine came with a conservative dripping of cherry compote and shards of honeycomb.

I was so surprised to discover the mousse came in a breakfast-sized bowl, a very generous portion, too much in fact as it began to taste sickly and I could not finish.

Mango mousse at The Lifeboat Inn. Picture: Taz Ali Mango mousse at The Lifeboat Inn. Picture: Taz Ali

The refreshing sorbet was at odds with the creamy mousse. The taste was just the way I like it, of soft, sweet and pulpy mango.

The chocolate terrine was bitter, which is expected from dark chocolate, but it was balanced by the sweetness of the black cherry compote, of which there was too little. Witt said the honeycomb did nothing but get stuck in his teeth.

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The Lifeboat Inn said: “Thank you for your review. I’m sorry for the omission from the platter. This was an obvious oversight from our chef and I’m glad you were compensated for this.

“The linguine usually receives such good feedback and the pasta is generally well received. Please accept our apologies for yours being softer than you expected.

Chocolate terrine at The Lifeboat Inn. Picture: Taz Ali Chocolate terrine at The Lifeboat Inn. Picture: Taz Ali

“With regards to our mango mousse this has been on throughout the summer. It is admittedly rich but should not have been “sickly” in any way

“Your comments are important to us and can only serve to help us improve and establish a confidence with our clientele. I’m pleased all other aspects of your meal were enjoyed and to a high standard”

Drink

Witt and I went for soft drinks but there is a sizeable wine list with most bottles starting at the £20 mark. As it is a pub there are plenty of other drinks available upon request.

Inside the restaurant at The Lifeboat Inn. Picture: Taz Ali Inside the restaurant at The Lifeboat Inn. Picture: Taz Ali

Atmosphere

There is a choice to have your meal in the conservatory or the restaurant. The conservatory is a lot livelier and closer to the bar and the restaurant is more suitable for family meals or romantic dinners. We decided to go for the restaurant and it was pleasantly quiet. Admittedly we got there quite early, around 5.30pm, and had the restaurant to ourselves for a good hour. The music wasn’t so loud that we couldn’t hear ourselves which suited us perfectly.

Loos

Spacious and clean.

Parking

There is ample parking out front.

Location

Thornham is a small coastal village and the pub is located on a quiet lane away from all the hubbub of the seaside towns. It is just off the A149 so it is easily accessible for people coming from King’s Lynn and even Cromer. Anyone taking a walk along the Norfolk Coast Path can take a pit stop at this pub and there is a coast hopper for non-drivers.

Price

The price of food and drink is what you would expect from a gastropub – pricey pub food. Starters begin at £5.50 and mains from around £14. On our visit the quality of the food did not warrant the hefty pub food price.

Highlight

The exceptional hand-cut chips.

Summary

It was a disappointing meal. The quality has noticeably dipped since the last time I visited three years ago but that could be for many factors. At the time, the Lifeboat Inn was a Marco Pierre White restaurant, the ownership of the Lifeboat has since changed hands. I will definitely go back during the winter to see how their seasonal menu fairs.

This is an independent review

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