Entering Armsby Abbey for a weekend brunch is like transporting to another world. You’re walking down a desolate stretch of Main Street in Worcester, MA with an eerie breeze, towering brick buildings, and only the lights of the Worcester Palladium blinking in the distance. You then happen upon a storefront and look up at what could be mistaken for a salvaged sign from a military base. Listen – there is a hum just beyond the glass and forged steel door. Open the door, pull back the weighted curtain, and you’re swept away into a new world of flavorful scents, inviting decor, comrades in great food and drink, and an always welcoming staff of hosts, servers, and ‘tenders. Ah, this is where everyone in Worcester has landed!
Armsby only takes reservations on special occasions for parties of 6-20, so you will be waiting if you don’t arrive shortly after their 10am open (yep, you could get caught off guard since this ain’t an 11am/NYC-style open).
I say enjoy your wait with a rare craft beer on tap, a build-your-own-bloody mary, or a craft cocktail. You won’t be anxiously looking over your shoulder wondering if parties are being seated ahead of you. The host takes your number to text you when your table’s ready. We suggest any IPA from Hill Farmstead Brewery, the ‘Green Tea Punch’, or a Bloody with cucumber-infused vodka, mild spice setting, a smokey rim & at least a bacon garnish (you can choose from many).
We were told it would be an hour wait, but it ended up being just shy of 30min. We were actually disappointed, since a pre-brunch libation at their ‘standing drink rail’ was perfect for catching up with friends (i.e., we would have waited another 30!). Tip: close-out your tab when your table’s ready because they don’t transfer to tables.
Even with a packed house our server took all the time in the world with us to cover questions about the brunch selections. Their sister establishment is Crust Bakeshop, so make sure to order the ‘Breakfast Slate’. Don’t worry, the brunch entrees aren’t Dennys-sized so you won’t be overstuffing when starting with the Slate. On the Slate, you’ll enjoy rotating, daily baked breads from Crust along with two Farmstead cheeses (i.e., cheese made from milk collected from animals on the same farm where the cheese is produced), local bamboo honey, Carlson Orchard apple slices, cultured butter, seasonal preserves, and amazing, homemade peanut butter. We were psyched that the Slate included the great Bloomsday cheese from Cato Corner Farm out of Colchester, CT.
The Mac ‘n’ Cheese is made from an assortment of Armsby’s Farmstead cheeses and topped with homemade bread crumbs, which gladly were more like bread cubes. The portion wasn’t huge, but there was more packed in there than at first glance.
Their Chorizo Hash is hash-tactic. Like almost everything at Armsby, the chorizo is homemade. It’s then coupled with roasted potatoes, carrots & parsnips hash sweet potato-lime puree, cilantro salsa verde, and topped with a soft-cooked local egg. Tip: order two eggs if you want to double-up!
Hankering for a UK breakfast tradition? Get the Bubbles & Squeaks and savor bacon creamed cabbage with roasted potatoes, chicken & spinach, topped with a crispy fried local egg and pickled onions – oh my! Tip: pair with a German-style pilsner.
Do a side of bacon or two to tie the brunch together. It has a greater than normal salt attack, but that’s just to counter the profoundly sweet outer coating. We don’t care if you already had it in your bloody, you need more!
Wind down your brunch with Armsby’s ‘Mexican coffee’ – constructed with coffee, RumChata, and chipotle-infused vodka. It hits the spot just right and isn’t spicy (if that was a concern).
Whether you are recovering from a deafening performance at the Palladium from the night before, a weary traveler passing though, a Worcester local looking for a morning escape from it all, or a weekend warrior with Armsby as your sole destination, you will have found the right place to satisfy your palate. Cheers. -The Sweet and Sweaty
144 Main Street, Worcester, MA 01608
@armsbyabbey (Instagram & Twitter)