Taps: 22 / Bottles: 85
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: N
Ratings: 132 | Reviews: 97 | Display Reviews Only:
4.6/5 rDev -1.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$
After hearing so much about Armsby Abbey, my girlfriend and I decided to venture out to Worcester one cold winter night to see what all the hype was about.
Armsby Abbey is located on the outskirts of downtown Worcester. The bar is situated in an old, refurbished brick building that appears to be a part of the downtown revitalization project. From the outside, the bar looks rather innocuous. Inside, the space is warm, cozy, dark and somewhat trendy. Pieces of brewerania dot the olive green walls and a thirty-or-so foot mahogany bar lines the right side of the room.
On our visit to Armsby Abbey (we went on a Saturday night around 8 PM), the bar was packed. When we asked the doorman if we could put our name in for a table, we were told that they do not take names. Instead, we had to hover for about fifteen minutes before fighting for a seat at the bar.
The beer selection at Armsby Abbey was quite impressive. The tap list consisted of approximately thirty, high-quality offerings (many of which were seasonal), including Samichlaus, Scaldis, Baladin Noel, Southern Tier Choklat and Gemini, Abbaye de Rocs Grand Cru and Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout. The bottle list, with over 150 offerings (including a page of vintage beers), was also rather notable. All beers are served in the proper glassware (many in their own glasses).
Besides beer, Armsby Abbey also prides itself on its upscale, artisnal "bar fare," much of which is organic and/or locally sourced. My girlfriend and I stared out with the Bay State cheese plate, which was to die for. The plate consisted of an array of cheeses (including a sharp bleu and a sharp cheddar), salami, whole grain breads, candied walnuts and clover honey, all from local producers. For our entrees, I had the BLT (outstanding, with thick cut bacon from Vermont) and my girlfriend had the duck sausage sandwich (might have been good in the summer but, as a cold dish, not the best thing to have on a cold winter night). Prices were a bit higher than you might find at your average pub but, lest we not forget, you are paying for (primarily) locally sourced, natural meats and produce here.
The service was commendable, especially given that we visited Armsby Abbey on a packed Saturday night. The "hip" bartenders were actually quite friendly and carried no attitude, like they often do in some Boston-area bars. I was even able to chat one up for a bit about the beers.
Overall, my experience at Armsby Abbey was very positive. My only recommendation would be to have a host take names for tables on weekend nights. I definitely plan to stop by Armsby Abbey again next time I visit Worm Town.
01-17-2009 15:35:13 | More by Damian
4.2/5 rDev -10.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5 | $$$
I have stopped at the Armsby Abbey a couple times recently while driving by Worcester. It is a great spot to hit for lunch/brunch and it sure beats the hell out of hitting some rest service area on the highway. It is pretty close to I-290 and really isnt much out of the way if you are on the Mass Pike to begin with. As you approach Worcester --take 290 east and take exit 17 and it is within a few blocks of the exit. Heading back east--you can take 290 west and then Rte 146 (towards Providence) south to Mass pike which doesnt require going back as far west as when you had begun on I-290.
Both times I have been-- it was on a Saturday afternoon and they had their brunch menu going. We had gotten this breakfast slate which is a cheese plate featuring cheeses and other items from some local farmers. In fact, most of the menu here is devoted to locally grown and produced ingredients/items. You could even say that the people that run this restaurant are somewhat of "local"-vores meaning they try to feature as many locally produced items as possible and it really helps in the quality department.
We have also had the corned beef hash calzone which was absoltely fantastic and their mac and cheese --also fabulous. I also had this eggs benedict pizza thing that was good but not as fantastic as some of the other items I mention.
Their beer selection is great and seems to change around with a good degree of regularity. The first time I went which was around Thanksgiving--most of the beers were more Belgian oriented. When I went back after Christmas--the focus was more on American craft beers. I tend to prefer the American crafts a little more as they can easily have a higher freshness level than something from overseas but just the fact that they change them around regularly is a good thing and definitely ensures freshness. The thing that I really liked about the beer selection is that they do these little flights of 4 beers in 4 oz samplers--this is perfect-- since many of them can be high in abv and you wouldnt be able to try as many and its not gonna really affect your ability to drive if you just have one flight-- where a few big glasses of big beer might make it less than safe to drive away from here. So this is an excellent way of doing the beers.
The service each time has been very friendly, prompt, attentive, and professional. She seems to know her beers pretty well too. I don't believe in testing people's knowledge as it is not that important to me but everytime I have discussed my opinioons on this or that-I got the impression, she definitely knew a good amount about the beers they serve here.
The pricing is a little on the expensive side but the emphasis is on quality, not mass produced junk--so overall, I'd say the pricing is fair but it isnt gonna win any "cheap eats" awards.
Overall, a fantastic place and a great addition to the Worcester scene. I have been driving by Worcester for years and never knew anywhere good to stop for food and a drink. Now I do and I wish this place much success. It is a great place for food and beer.
01-05-2009 21:46:20 | More by rousee
3.95/5 rDev -15.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$
This is a really good place. The few things I found off-putting (e.g. loudish music, variably poor lighting) would be easily fixable, are perhaps not a problem to others, and should certainly be considered in light of what kind of bar this is, that is to say, not a loud and dark bar at all.
I've been 3-4 times, and found the service to be either ok or sub-par. There seems to be some real knowledge at every level, which is great, but perhaps in selecting for that some more fundamental shortcomings (e.g. good waitering, polite conversation) were overlooked. Anyway, no big problems, and with such a small number of visits my impression might have just been luck of the draw.
Simply put, the beer is great. There's opportunity to branch out or seek shelter in old favorites.
There's some really good food here too. Most everything I've tried has been fantastic, only a few items on the cheese plates have fallen flat, and the real knock-outs on the plates kind of make up for them.
All in all a very nice place. You will likely spend a good deal of money here, but the quality of product more often than not justifies it. I will return and would recommend.
12-31-2008 02:03:44 | More by ncuba
4.83/5 rDev +3.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 5 | $$
Spent time making 'The Dive Bar' home while at school in Worcester a few years back and had to try this place - mostly because Alec is quite a respectable dude. Anyways, was really impressed and happy to see the way the Abbey turned out. I actually brought my parents here, who were a bit skeptical at first (mostly because I emphasized the selection of beers - and they don't really drink), but they loved it and did try some adult beverages, which they enjoyed per our servers recommendations etc.... We all agreed that the food was great (we had a large cheese plate and I had the cheeseburger pizza, which was very good) and reasonably priced and the beer selection draught/bottle was by far the best in the area. I will certainly be coming back here, when I make the trek from Boston and will be recommending it to everyone I can.
12-22-2008 02:32:45 | More by maxhock
4.3/5 rDev -7.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Finally had the chance to stop in here the night before Thanksgiving with some friends. Parking is a bit tight in the area if it's a busy night, but we got a good spot right on Main Street. Nice look from the street, brick building with huge windows and a very bold sign. Also very classy looking when you walk in. Brick everywhere, gorgeous wood, and cool ambient music playing. Bar itself is gorgeous, with all the Belgian beer glasses on display. A bit of a crowd for Wednesday night, but it's a big night to go out, so it was expected. There is a long bar to sit at, with a stand up bar behind it, separating the table areas. I can see how people can complain about the place getting crowded, as there does not seem to be a lot of room to maneuver if you are seat-less. Bartenders were very helpful, and the waitresses working the floor were very friendly. Huge chalkboard with the draught list, and a menu sized book for the bottle list. Impressive to say the least. I tried the '07 Pizza Port Old Viscosity, the Founders Backwoods Bastard, and the '07 Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence. PP and Founders came in snifters, and Omm was served in a branded glass. Our entire party was impressed with the beer. A friend ordered a pizza, and while I did not eat, it looked decent. The food menu look impressive also, but a bit on the high end price side. I have also heard that the portions are not immense. But I would love to come back soon to eat and judge for myself. Based on what a great time we had, the Abbey is definitely on my permanent must-visit list when I am back home. Plus, being so close to the Dive Bar, that's where we went after for late night drinks. Alec for Mayor of Woostah!
11-29-2008 17:42:02 | More by morebeergood
5/5 rDev +7.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5 | $$
I have tried just about everything on the menu. Went on the first weekend it opened and have been going back about once a week since.
It DOES get crowded, but that makes me happy, 'cause I like good places to eat and drink in the Woo. The crowds vary from people who look like they'd be at home in a biker bar, to college students and their professors, to hipsters, to your average 30 somethings out for a night... in short, it's a friendly place for everyone.
The service has never been anything but friendly. It is slow at times, but it's a slow food restaurant. That's part of the design: quality food made to order. If you're absolutely starving when you get there, there are a few quicker items, like a hummus or an olives/feta dip, but do expect to wait on anything you order.
For those who don't drink beer, or who are having a night where they don't feel like beer, the cocktails are absolutely fantastic. They are made with fresh seasonal fruit and are on the expensive side, but worth every penny. My mother, after having a vodka-lemonade made with fresh lemons, blueberries and a sprig of thyme, commented how it tasted healthy for an alcoholic beverage. The wine list is very good, as well, and I've bought bottles after having a glass at the Armsby Abbey.
I love that the bartenders and waitstaff take the time to explain all the different beers and menu options. It can be a bit daunting, I'd imagine, for someone who doesn't know what they're looking at to be confronted with all those beers. I'm a fairly experienced beer drinker and I appreciate their knowledge when I am unsure what a beer is. I love that no matter who you are, if you have an honest question about what they serve, the staff takes the time to explain it to you. I have seen some sarcasm back and forth between clientele and staff, but it's usually either based on a friendly relationship or because a patron came in and was a jerk right off the bat. This place is down the street from a venue that is famous for its arrests and drug deals and drunken, badly behaving frat boys and the owners don't really want any of that and will swiftly put down or remove anyone they see as about to cause a problem. That is also something I appreciate.
The physical beauty of the place has been mentioned. I know it seems trendy, but the bar and the tables are mahogany from a sustainable farm in South Africa, and the standing rail is an ancient board out of an ancient bridge that was being taken apart and recycled. Not to mention that the elbow rail there is one of the most comfortable I've ever leaned on! I hate bar rails with uncomfortable edges! It may seem trendy, but I think it's classic and will be beautiful for what I hope turns into years to come! Worcester has always had great restaurants, even when they have less-than-impressive beer selections, but this one is raising the bar (haha) for them, and I hope they all follow suit.
11-26-2008 11:37:02 | More by erantul
4.36/5 rDev -6.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$
From their website "22 Rotating Craft Draughts
(6 dedicated to Belgian), 1 Cask, Over 120 Unusual Bottles (70+ of which will be Belgian), and will include some of the rarest beers on the planet." Beer wise this place has the goods, when I visited a few days ago, here is most of the draft list:
Founders Breakfast stout
Founders Backwoods Bastard
Petrus oud Bruin
Allagash Grand Cru
BBC Cabin fever
Southern Tier IPA
2 from Honest Town
A Smutty selection
A Mayflower selection
Extensive bottle list LOADED with very BA worthy selections. BA's will find total beer satisfaction here. Belgians, locals. they have it.
Pleasant, classy atmosphere, dim lights and Jammy music at an intelligent, conversation inducing level. Mixed crowd, older/younger, a few groups and couples. Large windows looking out onto the mysterious Worcester night. Appropriate glassware in full force. Respect for beer clearly going on here. No time for food, but the menu is full of tasty looking options, made with local products, cooked in house, reasonable prices. I will be back, and this place would be a no-brainer favorite place if I was local.
11-26-2008 10:38:21 | More by Billolick
3.78/5 rDev -19.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 2 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$
The Armsby Abbey has an amazing beer selection that includes 22 taps and over 130 bottles (each listed in an easy to read menu listed by style, price, and abv). They really have something for everyone, all extremely fresh, and served in appropriate glassware. I enjoyed a Founder's Breakfast Stout, and a St. Bernardus abt 12 during my visit, and also enjoyed one heck of a pork bbq sandwich. Food is very unique and creative, and also very impressive. Tons of Belgians in bottles offered here of varying styles, but also plenty of American micros in a variety of styles, and even a very creative drink/martini menu if your company prefers that.
The bar itself is extremely clean, great low lighting and a terrific bar setup with older looking wood and a huge blackboard displaying current taps.
I do have one complaint, and to be fair, no other reviews report anything similar, so hopefully my experience was the exception. I had brought a couple of friends who were very skeptical and are not into stretching their beer palate, but I had re-assured them the friendly staff would help them pick something they would like. More than one staff member was borderline condescending when asking questions about the menu and taps, and in addition, we were kept waiting on both food and drink orders at various points while staff socialized with patrons for extended amounts of time at one section of the bar. It was rather frustrating, and embarassing for me having recommended the place so highly.
All in all, the food was GREAT, the beer selection amazing, but all that said I am not sure I will return. For me, I frequently remember the way I am made feel and that my business is appreciated above all else. That was not the case here.
11-13-2008 01:45:06 | More by CHADMC3
4.95/5 rDev +6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5 | $$
If you are in the Worcester area this is the place to go. Best beer selection (along with the Dive Bar) for miles. Rogue Double Dead Guy and Southern Tier Oat were my choices on this day. All beer is served in the proper glassware.
If you need to convince a non-beer drinker to go with you they have an equally varied and unique drink menu.
The food enhanced the experience. I went there for the beer and left raving about the food. The pizzas are delicious and original (try the Curry and Vegetable).
The beer and food menus change weekly so you will always find something new. I will definitely be back soon.
10-12-2008 20:59:09 | More by gchop
4.53/5 rDev -3%
vibe: 2 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$
I was in town on business, staying in Westborough, and decided to head down to Worcester to check this place out. I'm glad I did. Parking was pretty easy being a Wednesday night, but I can see how it would be potentially problematic on weekends or when something is going on at the arena nearby.
The place was a bit smallish, with probably 12 tables or so and a very nice, large bar that probably seated about 20. Bar was beautiful, handmade locally apparently, and the atmosphere overall was the biggest drawback in my opinion. Overall I'd describe the place as "trendy" and leaning toward a sort of chic/alternative yuppie crowd. Lots of martinis being served, for instance. Not a bad thing I suppose, but not really my style either. A bit on the pretentious side, which I don't really care for. Frankly, I found some of the clientele to be obnoxious and the conversation around me to be incredibly inane. Oh well, on to the beer...
As for the beer, they had they think 22 taps or somewhere in that range. Maybe 5 or 6 Belgian/Belgian style, including N'Ice Chouffe, Houblon Chouffe, a couple Unibroues, etc. Also Kentucky Breakfast Stout, O'Hara's Stout, Victory Braumeister Pils and Moonglow Weizenbock, some local stuff, Founders Devil Dancer, etc. Very nice selection overall. Also probably 130 bottles or something like that. I had a Breakfast Stout and Victory Pils. Outstanding. You'd be hard pressed to put together a more diverse, across the board quality beer selection.
As for food, they had 2 cheese plates; one a New England plate, the other a Belgian plate. Also some salads, soups, sandwiches and wood fire pizzas. I had a cup of corn chowder which was pretty good, and a very tasty Fall Harvest Pizza with pumpkin, caramelized onions, homemade sausage, etc. Service was great. Prices were quite reasonable. The bartenders were very attentive, quick to ask about refills, etc. The bartender serving me even entertained a customer to my right for a solid five minutes with what I considered to be incredibly obnoxious, inane questions and conversation. To her credit, she did it all with a smile on her face. This is supposed to be a beer bar, I thought, so extended conversation about different flavors of martinis just doesn't do it for me. Oh well, that's just me.
10-09-2008 00:09:50 | More by number1bum
Armsby Abbey in Worcester, MA
100 out of 100 based on 132 ratings.