Saturday, 18 July 2009

Day 6 - South West Coast - Ilfracombe

After going to Clovelly, Ilfracombe was always going to be a different experience. It's much more of a working town, with a fishing industry that supports the local folk. But it is similar in that it has some of the old soul from times gone by. There's an unofficial debate going on in town about whether Ilfracombe should develop a waterfront area. At the moment, the harbour and the breakwater are traditional...and I can imagine how it could be transformed into a glitzy eating and dining promenade.

But, Ilfracombe works for me. I think it offers just the right amount of authenticity, without losing the services that tourists need, such as nice (but not overly posh, thankfully) restaurant and pubs, and comfortable B&Bs. It does host Damien Hirst's restaurant, called "Number 11 The Quay." But it's the only nationally famous one, while the others seem to offer good food at really good prices. (If you're not from the UK or an art fundi, like me, then check out some Wiki info on Damien Hirst...he's a controversial, and very wealthy, artist.)

I ate a delicious sole at Take Thyme, on Fore Street, right next to the harbour. It was caught in the afternoon, and Tara O'Callaghan bought and cooked it for me a few hours later. Her restaurant hasn't been decorated by a professional, and it's not going to attract a trendy city crowd...however, the meal was the best - and most representative of the area - that I've had yet. And you can sit and look out the windows onto the street, watching locals - not tourists - walk by.

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