The Lifeboat Inn, Thornham, restaurant review: ‘A pleasant evening in a friendly pub’

PUBLISHED: 09:20 23 May 2018

Baked goat’s cheese, slow-cooked tomato and onion chutney tart with hand cut chips at The Lifeboat Inn. Picture: Archant

Baked goat’s cheese, slow-cooked tomato and onion chutney tart with hand cut chips at The Lifeboat Inn. Picture: Archant


I’ve had both the best and worst meals in the Lifeboat Inn, so I revisit the gastropub with the hope that third time’s a charm.

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


Since becoming vegetarian this year, I’ve really struggled with finding a restaurant with a sizeable meat-free option on the menu. But at the Lifeboat Inn, I was delighted to find the menu included a variety of vegetarian meals as well as a separate vegan menu. These were coded in a way to make them easy to find without me having to second guess whether they’re vegetarian, and there were also 14 other allergen codes for those unable to eat certain foods like milk, nuts, fish and eggs.

I decided on the courgette, lemon and pumpkin seed linguini with sage parmesan to start as the range of rich ingredients sounded like some thought had gone into preparing this meat-free dish. When it arrived I was surprised to find how much was handed to me on a plate, it was quite a big portion and could have worked as a main on its own, especially as it was heavily laden with cream. But the flavours worked really well with each other - nutty and earthy, it was like comfort food only posh.

For the main I opted for the baked goat’s cheese, slow-cooked tomato and onion chutney tart. Goats cheese is not my favourite cheese because of how chalky it can sometimes taste, but the melted cheese on the tart complimented the tangy chutney and flaky pastry.

Courgette, lemon and pumpkin seed linguini starter at The Lifeboat Inn. Picture: ArchantCourgette, lemon and pumpkin seed linguini starter at The Lifeboat Inn. Picture: Archant

I swapped the sweet potato fries for hand-cut chips instead, as I remembered how tasty they were before - both crunchy and fluffy at the same time - and they certainly delivered again. But as the starter was so filling I only managed to eat a third of my main, it seemed a terrible waste of food and the dish would’ve served well if the chips were not included.

I had a spoonful of my partner’s creme brulee for dessert, which came with shortbread and poached apricots. The classic dessert was just as it should be - with the satisfying crunch of the crisp caramel topping and rich custard base. The soft apricots were a nice touch, especially for those with a sweet tooth.


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.

Crème brûlée with poached apricots and shortbread at The Lifeboat Inn. Picture: ArchantCrème brûlée with poached apricots and shortbread at The Lifeboat Inn. Picture: Archant


When booking a table you are given the choice of sitting in the restaurant dining area or conservatory. The dining area is dimly-lit, perfect for romantic dinners, and more spacious which makes it ideal for larger parties or families. This time I went for the conservatory, which was beautifully decorated with carefully considered antiques and glowed in the natural lighting.


The staff were attentive and cheery. They made recommendations without being intrusive and were generally very friendly.


Spacious and clean.


There is ample parking out front.


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.


The price of food and drink is what you would expect from a gastropub – pricey pub food. Starters begin at £6.50 and mains from around £15. My partner and I had two starters, two mains, one dessert and a bottle of wine and that came to about £80. The portion sizes are quite hefty so you can’t say you don’t get your money’s worth.


The staff were very accommodating, and the waitress who looked after us gave really helpful suggestions and it was an added bonus that she was vegetarian herself and recognised my needs. We even high-fived in solidarity.


It didn’t quite top the best meal I ever had in the restaurant when it was under Marco Pierre White’s ownership, but it was a pleasant evening and I enjoyed everything I ordered. My only criticism would be the portion sizes were too big, especially the starter, but for those who like to be full to the brim then this restaurant will definitely eliminate any hunger pangs.

This is an independent review

Read more EDP food reviews.

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