Boston Restaurant Blog -- May, 2013
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
The Boston area has no shortage of beer bars and gastropubs, but what about other areas of New England? Well, these types of eating and drinking establishments can certainly be found elsewhere in the region, with one such place being in downtown Worcester. And after hearing some glowing reports about the spot, we finally got to Armsby Abbey earlier this month.
Armsby Abbey calls itself a "boutique beer bar," but the interior looks in some way like a dive bar, with its dimly lit room that has exposed pipes along the high ceiling, exposed brick walls, and a wooden floor that has its share of nicks and scratches. High-top tables run along the brick wall to the left, while a cozy bar area that is comfortable enough for dining is to the right. A narrow bar rail that acts as a partition between the tables and the bar area sits in the middle of the room, and it has stools set up for folks who might not want to feel like standing. More seating can be found by the front windows, and a blackboard along the brick wall shows some of the beers that are being offered.
Armsby Abbey was pretty busy when we arrived, so we opted for seats at the bar rather than wait for a table. We started off with a round of beers, including a citrus-y and slightly sweet Stillwater Stateside Saison and a yeasty Mahr's Saphir Weisse, and I also had a deliciously rich carrot parsnip ginger soup that was so brightly colored that it was almost glowing. For our meals, we ordered a macaroni and cheese along with a Mediterranean "slate," with both being nothing short of outstanding. The mac and cheese had house-made croutons baked into the top of it and while the portion didn't look all that big, it was so hearty that it could barely be finished (but it was also one of the best versions of this dish that I have tried in the past year or so). The Mediterranean plate included everything from serrano ham to house-made hummus to locally-made feta to green olives to almonds, as well as pieces of freshly-baked bread. This beautifully-presented plate scored on all counts, with the bread and the hummus perhaps being the standouts. Service was about as good as you can get, and the folks behind the bar were both friendly and funny. Prices were a bit high overall, but they would probably be even higher if this place were in Boston. By the way, some of the beer prices are extremely high, with at least a few being around $50 (and yes, these are literally some of the best beers in the world), so you definitely want to double-check the prices before ordering.
The only complaint I have about Armsby Abbey is the fact that it's too far from Boston to go to on a regular basis. And no, it's not really a hidden spot--at least among people living in Worcester, folks in the restaurant industry, and beer geeks. But this has the potential to be one of my personal favorites in New England, comparing favorably to another similar spot that is also a fave--The People's Pint in Greenfield--along with When Pigs Fly Pizzeria in Kittery, Maine, which is more of a true restaurant, though it also features some fantastic scratch-made comfort food and an impressive array of beers. The fact that Armsby Abbey compares favorably to these spots certainly says quite a bit about the place.
For those who want the address for Armsby Abbey, here it is: Armsby Abbey, 144 Main Street, Worcester, MA, 01608. The phone number is (508) 795-1012.
Related Blog Entries: Worcester restaurants
We returned to Armsby Abbey last week, this time trying the outstanding Argentine beef sandwich (the bread was fresh and rather substantial) and an equally good sausage pizza. We mostly stuck with Bink Blond for drinks, though a Port Summer Pale Ale was also in the mix (it was slightly hoppy, with the Bink Blond being very light and a better warm-weather beer, I'd say). Service was great and the atmosphere and vibe was terrific just like the last time. This place is quickly becoming one of my personal faves in New England.
Posted on 7/11/13
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