The Lifesaving Station - Sanderling Resort

4.4
425 reviews
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$30 and under
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American
Located in the original Caffey’s Inlet Life Saving Station No. 5, the Lifesaving Station is Sanderling’s casual, three-meal-a-day restaurant celebrating southern coastal cuisine. After the winter renovations, the second level now offers sweeping views of the Currituck Sound and available for large parties with an expansive kid’s menu.

The menu changes seasonally, and specials feature the freshest of the day’s catch. This season’s highlights are Shrimp and Grits, Crab Stuffed Flounder or Pan Seared Duck Breast. Since the restaurant's inception in 1985, the Sanderling Blue Crab Chowder has been a favorite.

The Lifesaving Station maintains an impressive wine list. At the newly renovated No 5 Bar now located on the first level, local North Carolina breweries are featured on tap while specialty cocktails include “Keeper’s Watch” . A new No 5 bar food menu is available all day.
What 425 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.4based on recent ratings
4.5
food
4.3
service
4.5
ambience
4.1
value
Noise · Quiet
83% of people would recommend it to a friend
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Philadelphia
1 review
Dined 2 days ago
Overall 2food 2service 3ambience 3

Not great. Duck was not cooked to liking. Food was mediocre at best.

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DR
Baltimore
8 reviews
Dined on May 12, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

A very enjoyable meal at a quaint restaurant.. history behind this place is interesting.. food was excellent and prepared with care

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OT
Raleigh
1 review
Dined on May 12, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Had a lovely Mother’s Day brunch! The menu provided a splendid selection for our group. The food was plentiful and delicious! The service was top notch!! We live in Corolla year round and love having The Sanderling in our backyard!

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T
Richmond
9 reviews
Dined on May 12, 2019
Overall 3food 5service 1ambience 4

Probably the worst service we have ever had. For $40 a plate for a brunch we would expect good service plus at LEAST a cup of coffee included. The waitress brought out the wrong course twice, plunked down extra silverware on our table quite brusquely when it was meant for another table and hurried away. She never looked at our table as she hurried past us numerous times. We felt invisible . I never got my coffee or a refill of water and my husband couldn't get her attention for a coffee refill in the cup she had originally filled half way spilling it on the side of the cup. At one point we called out when we called out "excuse me as she hurried past without acknowledging us for the umpteenth time . We said, " we would like some coffee and water." She answered quite rudely , "I JUST said I was getting it!." Sorry it was hard to hear her as she rushed past our table without looking our way. She also dropped an entire tray. The hostess finally came in to mop up the mess and we were able to tell her how bad the service was. s
She apologized saying the girl was new. She brought us coffee herself but no effort at compensation was made. On a positive note, the three courses were outstanding and it would have been a perfect Mother's Day gift if the experience was more enjoyable. We understand the wait staff is new as the season begins, but when you are spending $40 a person with no other options on the menu we should not be paying for ineptness. Even though the food was absolutely delicious we would be reluctant to return because eating out should be an enjoyable experience, not an irritating one.

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BR
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on May 3, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Service was excellent through they had a computer glitch finding our reservation. Food was well prepared we had the tuna and the scallops entree . Scallops just slightly over salted but overall very good.

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OB
1 review
Dined on April 28, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 4ambience 4

Unfortunately, meat for both of our meals was over cooked and was not prepared as ordered. Very small portions when compared to our previous visit (6) months earlier and for a higher cost also.

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TC
Houston
13 reviews
Dined on April 11, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Short ribs were tender and tasty, the mussels were fresh and floating in an amazing broth with crisp toasts to soak it up. Loved the fried oysters and wine list. Stacy and Lindsay were excellent hosts, we ended up eating at the bar. Would highly recommend this spot!

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OT
1 review
Dined on April 6, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Really enjoyed the food and experience. Crafted cocktails, high quality food and excellent service. When we go back to the OBX we are most definatley returning.

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V
1 review
Dined on March 30, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

The Lifesaving Station was a beautiful place to have dinner and enjoyed a lovely evening and stay at The Sandeling. The Host was very nice and accomodating and our Waitress Lindsey was a true professional! Thank you for a great evening and looking forward to another visit!

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BH
Dallas
2 reviews
Dined on March 12, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

It’s all good. Great food. Great staff. Beautiful surroundings. Menu options very good.

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LC
New York Area
3 reviews
Dined on February 16, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

This is my second time dining at the lifesaving station I enjoyed the food as much as I did on my first visit Service was a bit slow but it is off season on a holiday weekend so they may not have been expecting the higher volume I will definitely be going back next time I visit the outer banks

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L
Charlotte
7 reviews
Dined on February 16, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Taylor was an awesome asset to a great meal. He was present, answered our questions, and made himself available without being annoying!! We will go back!

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S
Washington DC
197 reviews
Dined on February 14, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

First, thanks and appreciation to Taylor, our extraordinary server, who made an already fabulous dinner even more so. Fun, friendly, and knowledgeable, he was truly outstanding. The rack of lamb and the fried chicken were fabulous entrees. When the fruit tart was not as "chocolaty" as my wife had hoped, Taylor comped an additional dessert. We will request him next time. One question - why was the chocolate bomb dessert available only when ordering the Valentine's Day special menu? It was the end of the evening, we would up the last diners in the restaurant, and there were portions of the chocolate bomb remaining, but we were not permitted to order any (even happy to pay an upcharge). That was the evening's only disappointment.

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M
Richmond
1 review
Dined on December 26, 2018
Overall 2food 1service 1ambience 3

Unfortunately we had a terrible experience on the 26th of December. We made reservations for 7:30 as we were arriving late. A table was saved for us, we were brought bread and water. We ordered appetizers and entrees. For the first 45 minutes after that, we had the one serving of bread and the one glass of water. After it became clear that there was going to be no idea when either would be coming out, we finally asked the waiter to just bring our appetizer and forget the entrees. He wasn't sure if he could do that. Finally, he did bring our appetizer. Mine was wilted Ceaser salad with wet croutons on top. My wife ordered clam chowder. It was barely warm and loaded with potatoes.
After the appetizers, it was clear that the entrees were, indeed, cancelled- thankfully. We were visited by the manager. She was very nice, apologized, and offered us a free dessert to take back to our room, and we declined. Though she was very nice and professional, she did say something about our waiter which, I don't believe, was part of the problem and not worth commenting on. She said that the waiter was having "personal issues." We didn't need to hear anything else about anything. We told her that we would try them again during our time at the Sanderling. But we decided not to.

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DM
New York Area
1 review
Dined on December 25, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Christmas dinner!

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SM
1 review
Dined on December 24, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent eating experience.. from walking in the door and being greeted by a very attentive employee, seated and drink order taken, was maybe 5 minutes. Meal was served hot and excellent taste. Server was very friendly and helpful. We can't wait to see you next year to help us with our Christmas dinner.

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KC
1 review
Dined on December 13, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We enjoyed a great dinner by the fireplace. Started by sharing the mussels and then had rockfish and duck. Both were tasty and came with terrific sides. We finished with the flourless chocolate torte.

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M
Washington DC
11 reviews
Dined on December 10, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We were celebrating 3 birthdays and the staff was very nice and we had a wonderful meal. Chef Andy came out to greet us and made some recommendations which were excellent! He brought us a wonderful complementary Tira Masu desert to share, Lovely restaurant, excellent food!

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JO
New York Area
1 review
Dined on November 22, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Thanksgiving dinner was fantastic!! Thank you to the wonderful staff for taking time out of their day to make ours special.

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j
Greensboro
1 review
Dined on November 22, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Breakfasts and Thanksgiving Dinner were on all basis really excellent meals. Sanderling's greatest assets are the people who work there and that was true of the dining room as well, all made us comfortable, worked hard and were delightful and in good cheer. Our thanks and compliments.

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I
Washington DC
38 reviews
Dined on October 3, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 5

Vacationing on the Outer Banks, we had not eaten at the Lifesaving Station for over 10 years. We returned with our friends, and were greeted and seated immediately… The dining room was quiet because of the time of the year and day of week.
Our waiter came to the table, and took our drink order. My wife ordered a French martini, a drink they could not prepare for us two years in a row before, and I ordered a Sapphire martini, not a challenging drink.
Before the drinks were served, the waiter came back and expected us to place our orders for appetizers and dinners! I told him we were not ready, and that we were still waiting for our drinks. He responded that the bartender was still working on the four drinks, the French martini, the Sapphire martini, a draft beer, and a Mojito. A few minutes later, he returned to the table and verified that my wife wanted a French martini, and asked me what brand of vodka I wanted. We verified the French martini, and that I did not want vodka, I wanted Sapphire gin.
A few minutes later he returned with for cocktails, and the French martini was not tinted red as it should have been, and he served my wife to drink explaining that it was a French martini. They need to Google recipes!
My wife sipped the drink, accepted the drink, although it was wrong, and the waiter later told her that it was a French 85. That’s what the bartender told him. There is no such drink! There is a French 75, but this was not a French 75!
The food was good. It wasn’t great, but it was good. The presentations were nice, the other gentleman at the table ordered steak, which was at least $35, and the waiter did not ask him how he wanted it cooked. I asked him how he wanted it cooked while the waiter was at the table taking our orders. He appeared slightly embarrassed, and I’m sure that the chef would’ve asked him to find out, hoping that he would not have guessed. He later told us that he was a breakfast waiter, so this was “different” for him.

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m
Baltimore
62 reviews
Dined on September 7, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Loved this place, food was excellent. I will go again the next time I am in Duck!

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DW
1 review
Dined on September 2, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Wonderful food; very accommodating. Waitress (Toby) was outstanding and helpful.

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S
New England
20 reviews
Dined on September 1, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 2

They need a new bartender. Drinks were poorly made. Dessert coffee cocktail was missing ingredients listed on the menu. Food was OK. Coffee was served cold. Server was nice. Place is clearly a hotel dining room and not a destination. My mistake.

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MS
Washington DC
6 reviews
Dined on August 29, 2018
Overall 2food 2service 1ambience 1

My family and I visit The Outerbanks every year and I can say it was the worst time (food and service) we
have ever had any restaurant and was pricey for the food served. There are too many options to go to this restaurant.

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OT
Washington DC
3 reviews
Dined on August 29, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 3

Food was very good. They seemed a little understaffed as service was not attentive. Avoid sitting outside in the evening - so many flies!

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V
1 review
Dined on August 25, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

Great service, great food. Cool decor and atmosphere.

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S
Richmond
4 reviews
Dined on August 23, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 3ambience 3

My wife and I absolutely loved this place last year so we had to return during our vacation this year. The apps and entries were amazing, but service and desert were pretty disappointing in contrast. We look forward to visiting again next year, this could have been an off night.

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OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on August 18, 2018
Overall 3food 5service 5ambience 2

Food was great. Server was great. The kitchen was extremely backed up and our server was extremely over worked. We waited a long time for our food.

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RA
Washington DC
18 reviews
Dined on August 18, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Fabulous server. Interesting food able to accommodate our special fish and vegetarian needs.

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W
Raleigh
41 reviews
Dined on August 9, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 3

Made reservation for outside seating, beautiful evening but arrived to find they weren’t seating outside.

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GC
Philadelphia
1 review
Dined on August 7, 2018
Overall 2food 3service 3ambience 2

Not great. One waiter very obtrusive... dashing around like crazy in a way that interrupted what was happening. Bounding up the steps... irritating and distracting. Our waiter was lovely.
Didn’t really like menu. Was hoping for specials that were more appealing, but there weren’t any. Expensive

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LH
Richmond
1 review
Dined on August 6, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

The Lifesaving Station never disappoints. I love this restaurant.

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J
Richmond
3 reviews
Dined on August 5, 2018
Overall 3food 2service 4ambience 3

Although my wife and I dine out 2-3 time per week, I have never written a restaurant review. However, both my wife and I feel strongly that a restaurant of the caliber of the Lifesaving Station at the Sanderling Resort should have provided better hospitality. On arrival, the inside dining room of the restaurant was very loud so we opted for an outside table. We were warned there were flies. Discovered there were many. Wine, appetizer, duck breast all very good. Tables were left uncleared for too long, attracting more flies.
My wife ordered the rare seared tuna on a “BED” of warm Niçoise salad. Unfortunately, she ordered the tuna medium rare, and it presented more medium than rare. The warm salad came without any leafy greens, nor tomato. Unfortunately, I did not take a picture until she had eaten the tuna and beans. She did not expect such a thick heavy orange sauce in her salad. Kelsey, our waitress, was very professional. We spoke to the manager who was very defensive. My wife was told by the restaurant manager, this is how a warm Niçoise salad is made, and her expectations were not accurate, with no apology stated.
After 32 years of visits to the Sanderling Inn, now known as the Sanderling Resort, my wife and I along with our extended family will not be going back. A simple apology and an offer to discount the meal would have gone a long way toward maintaining a customer of many decades.

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S
Baltimore
10 reviews
Dined on August 1, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

We have visited the Sanderling many times and always have enjoyed the Lifesaving Station. Our dinner was very good. The oyster and calamari appetizer was delicious. My flounder entrée was also very good. We will return next time we are in Duck.

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C
Richmond
5 reviews
Dined on July 26, 2018
Overall 3food 2service 3ambience 3

My husband and I were a little disappointed with our one dinner experience but breakfast/brunches were fine. The food at dinner was neither tasty nor well-prepared -- a pan-fried flounder that was thin, dry and not very appetizing looking on a mound of mushroom orzo and chewy, soggy pieces of crostini. Though the wait staff was friendly and helpful, the manager was openly grouchy and unpleasant. Only two tables were seated indoors at the time, and when we asked for the lights to be dimmed, the staff promptly accommodated. A few minutes later, however, the manager cam storming out from the bar and flipped the lights up to their full brightness, blinding all the guests. When we asked him as a group to please turn them back down, he relented grudgingly and snapped angrily at the staff for all of the guests to see and hear. We will not return there for dinner, which is too bad because the location is so convenient for guests of the resort. Mr. Manager could use some refresher training in customer service and people skills.

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EG
Washington DC
14 reviews
Dined on July 25, 2018
Overall 4food 3service 4ambience 5

Have eaten here multiple times. This one was disappointing. My fried flounder was not flavorful and was over cooked. However, my husband loved his short ribs. The oyster and calamari appetizer was good. We asked for leftovers in a box but they never came and we forgot to ask.

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MG
1 review
Dined on July 22, 2018
Overall 3food 5service 3ambience 3

Food was outstanding. The restaurant was very noisy. Some guests behaved themselves really rudely and loud, the restaurant staff wouldn’t say anything.

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OT
Atlantic City
1 review
Dined on July 20, 2018
Overall 3food 4service 3ambience 3

Went to The Lifesaving Station around 6:45 on a Friday evening with my family and my sister’s family (8 people total). The dining room was about a quarter full with lots of open tables. We were told we couldn’t be seated until 8pm because they had reservations for other large groups. I said we would split into two groups of four, but they weren’t interested in accommodating. We went outside and were able to make reservations on our Open Table app for 7pm. We walked back inside and were promptly seated. I love The Sanderling resort and have eaten at this restaurant many times, but I was appalled at the lack of service we received at the hostess stand by the manager. Why turn away 8 diners when your restaurant is nearly empty? The two large parties didn’t arrive until around 7:45, and there were still plenty of four-tops available. Very unprofessional.

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SW
Baltimore
2 reviews
Dined on July 7, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Good food selection and great service

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