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The Quay

It might be owned by controversial animal-pickling artist Damien Hirst, but this trendy eating and drinking joint welcomes dogs (at least to its outside tables) and promises not to put them in a tank of formaldehyde. Bringing a slice of Soho cool to the otherwise kiss-me-quick Ilfracombe harbourfront, the Quay is positioned right opposite Hirst's other gift to Ilfracombe: a 66-feet-high statue of a very pregnant and semi-see-through woman, Verity, who holds a pair of weighing scales in her left hand and pierces the restless North Devon sky with a sword held aloft in her right.

Hirst transformed this former pub – the White Hart– from a basic boozer to an über-cool café back in 2004. Dogs are welcome at the streetside tables (which is where they'll want to be anyway); inside is more precious in more ways than one, home to several of the artist's pieces (on sale, if you have a million or so to spare). The surprise is the understated menu. Shellfish is the speciality and fresh, fresh, fresh is the mantra (most of the characters on the menu would have been alive-alive-oh at the beginning of day). Try the Lundy Island lobster when it's available, otherwise chose from cod and chunky chips, local crab claws, smoked haddock risottos or Exmoor steaks. There's no cooler place to wind down and refuel after a walk with your best buddy.

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