A celebration of truly great food and coastal heritage
For over 500 years, The Lifeboat Inn at Thornham has been providing shelter and welcoming visitors to the stunning north Norfolk coast. Today it’s a traditional hotel, restaurant and bar, and it’s only when you step through the doors of this historic building that you really start to appreciate its heritage. It’s a heritage proudly and thoughtfully celebrated; each of the hotel’s 13 stylish double bedrooms, for example, is named after a crew member of Licensed Victualler’s III, the last pulling lifeboat at the Hunstanton lifeboat station.
The Lifeboat Inn is still a sanctuary of course (providing a warm and welcome break from the frenetic pace of modern-day life) and it’s still the perfect harbour from which to explore the surrounding unspoilt coastline and its charming villages. It’s also – thanks to General Manager James Green, Head Chef Michael Smith and their friendly team – a showcase of locally reared meats, freshly-caught fish and Norfolk-grown vegetables, bringing them all together in a comprehensive home-cooked menu.
Depending on your mood and the occasion you can choose to dine in the history-soaked bar, the relaxing dining room, one of the modern cedar wood pavilions (great for parties and informal get-togethers) or the spacious glass-roofed conservatory – in which you’ll find a 200-year-old vine that still fruits and flowers.
Despite the Lifeboat Inn’s proximity to the coast, the menu offers a very good variety of dishes including Lifeboat Classics and regularly-changing specials, and make sure to have some bread while you make your choices; it’s baked daily in the kitchen ovens and is delicious.
Soup is always a safe bet for a starter, and Michael Smith’s creations are excellent (the carrot and cumin is lovely) although you should keep an eye out for the deep-fried goat’s cheese bonbons, which are served with pickled mushrooms and are a mouth-watering way to open a meal.
When available, the pan-roasted venison is a fabulous main course (the pickled grapes and candied walnuts adding a great touch) but don’t overlook the more traditional choices such as the beef and ale pie. The latter features high quality meat, satisfyingly rich flavours and is topped with a superb thyme suet crust. To coin a phrase, it’s a pie to die for.
Thyme also makes an appearance in the pick of the desserts; a delightful lavender brûlée (no prizes for guessing where the lavender comes from!) with wonderful lemon and thyme shortbread. The ice cream is also well worth trying, as that’s something else that comes direct from the kitchen.
When it comes to dining out, The Lifeboat Inn has got it exactly right; it’s a truly wonderful setting, it has a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, and it takes a thoughtful, inventive approach to creating great tasting food.