Restaurant Review: Armsby Abbey

Looking for something fresh and funky?

Armsby Abbey

 144 North Main Street
Worcester, MA


Something fun, something funky, and something different was the mood on a recent Monday when my financial advisor and I got together to review recent market activities.  With the DJIA tumbling, something on a first floor seemed appropriate.  Armsby Abbey filled the bill and more.

Armsby Abbey is one of those places easily regularly frequented.  It’s comfortable, with an emphasis on local and fresh…slow food.  The first thing noticed upon entering is the extensive list of craft beer on a large black board.  Beating my companion to the nice wood bar, “Jack and Ginger” rolled off my tongue easily.  “Sorry, sir, we don’t have large commercial brands.  I do have a great single barrel to offer you.”

“Add a Barcardi and Coke to that,” announced my friend, grabbing another seat at the bar.  “Sorry, sir, we don’t carry large mass produced brands.  I do have an excellent alternative (showing us a bottle) and we do like to keep it local, so we serve (Worcester-based) Polar rather than Coke.”

Thus was our introduction to Armsby Abbey.  Eschew your bad habits and big corporate America, and open your tastes and enjoy what to local smaller guy has to offer.  And if you like craft beer, even the wine people have recognized this as the place to go.

Just for a moment, I considered whether this was a commentary on the economy….but I digress.

We arrived around 5:30PM, and the small patio was filled and the restaurant was largely unoccupied.  This wasn’t a huge surprise; it’s a Monday night towards the end of summer.

The menu brought us back to the local theme quickly:

The Berberian Farm Stand is now open & overflowing with fresh veggies in Northboro daily from 9am-7pm! Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Peaches & Nectarines at Tougas Farm in Northboro are here & pick-your-own is now available!

I had the Charcuterie: a (rotating) assortment of meats prepared in house served with Dr. Gonzo’s Blackfly Mustard (from Worcester, MA and delicious), a huge pile of housemade Crostini and House Pickles.  While my Midwestern upbringing had me expecting huge slabs of meat, Armsby Abbey provides smaller portions leaving me quite happy.

My friend had pizza.  From the menu “Tomato & Mozzarella- Hand Stretched Artisan Mozzarella from Maplebrook Farm (Bennington, VT), Organic House Crushed Tomatoes and torn fresh Basil finished with a drizzle of fresh pressed California Arbequina EVOO & Sea Salt.”  They make it sound so good you almost wonder which of the seven seas produced the sea salt.

The food was uniformly excellent.  The passion for freshness and fresh flavors came through in every bite, making me wonder what flavors are being diminished forever through processing.

As we talked finances, politics, restaurant experiences and life in general, we noted the Armsby Abbey was slowly filling up.  By 7:30PM the place was nearing capacity, with a crowd I’d characterize as young professional/graduate student. 

The bartender overheard us talking about a suggestion another friend made…to do a review of places catering to children, and those not.  Armsby Abbey does not cater to children.  “Young adults under the age of 21 and children over 3 years of age are welcome any day before 6PM with their parents, however after 6 o’clock, we are strictly a 21 plus establishment.” 

Armsby Abbey just turned three years old as a restaurant, and boasts 70 seats.

The Armsby Abbey is located in downtown Worcester, MA, across from the former Crowne Plaza Hotel (labeled simply MCPHS) and Elwood Adams Hardware.  We had no trouble with parking on the street.  The meters are needed until 8PM, although we were informed Worcester Meter Maids do not work past 5:00PM.

Armsby Abbey gets a:

       Green Light – Go and enjoy

About the RAG scale:hen

       Green Light – Go and enjoy

       Amber Light – Use caution

       Red Light – Save your time and money


The Author

Gary Kelley has lived in Westborough since 1994. His reviews are what he would tell friends, and are not an academic analysis.  You can follow him @glkelley or www.garylkelley.com

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Rob Nagi October 10, 2011 at 01:46 AM
One of my favorite bar/restaurants in Worcester when I'm out with my adult friends. The selection of beers, great food, and cheeses (yep, try the cheese plate!) is so unique, I cannot think of a similar place to visit anywhere in the MetroWest area. I agree with your assessment 100%.
Gary Kelley October 10, 2011 at 02:45 AM
Armsby Abbey is one of those places I have to remind myself is there...heading to downtown Worcester isn't always top of mind....and yet every time I've gone to Armsby Abbey I've liked it!


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