This week in Worcester we took a trip to a pub that my husband had been to frequently.
The Armsby Abbey sits at 144 Main Street, which boasts of a great craft beer selection, and delicious food.
With work finishing later my husband and I decided to meet there; hopefully arriving around the same time.
I walked fast in the cold air, bundled up, and arrived in record time.
At first I almost tried to go into the wrong door, which was for the building next to it, and cringed at how embarrassing that would have been – ha.
Now entering the right door I felt a sudden rush of warmth from the inside, which I greeted happily.
The restaurant and bar was shaped in an oblong, and it was jam packed full with happy patrons; I immediately felt very small within its walls.
Nervously, I looked around trying to find my husband, but he wasn’t there.
Trying to be an adult I took myself down the bar, noticing how hot it was in my winter jacket and scarf as I began to overheat.
Every table was full, but I could see two open bar seats at the end, thank god!
I instantly sat down, ripping off my layers, and began to calm as a lovely waitress greeted me with a smile.
Instantly I messaged my husband, who was now running late due to work, and decided I’d get a beer so that I had something to do with my awkward hands besides play on my phone at the bar.
Their list was plentiful, and fun, ranging from sours, to stouts, to IPAs and good old wheats to mention a few.
I chose a ‘Allagash Cultive’ which was a sour wheat ale with peaches.
It was delicious.
The first sip made my cavities tingle as the sourness of the beer hit, but soon it calmed down and I was left with a nice bite and a mouth full of peaches.
Here’s the beer menu for you to see for yourself.
They also had bottled beer on the opposite side, but I’d definitely advise you to have fun with the drafts.
After what felt like an hour (but was only 20 minutes) of social anxiety and awkwardness trying to talk to other patrons, my husband arrived all bundled up from the cold.
‘I’m so glad you’re here’ I said as I kissed his cold lips.
He laughed, knowing that for the past 20 minutes I’d probably been hilariously awkward to anyone I’d interacted with.
My husband decided he’d go for the Trillium Double Seesaw, which was a black currant gose.
I loved it; the black currants where so prominent that it was not a sour bite which overpowered your mouth, but almost like a sour bite from biting in a currant candy with sour liquid inside.
We spoke about the day and about the place; my husband informed me that he’d been here so many times before that it was almost a ritual when he came to Worcester, for me however, it was my first time.
The lights where dim, and the wooden bar with tables and chairs added a warm feel to the atmosphere; at the front and back of the bar they had little alcoves with tables in them, and every seat in the house was full.
I liked this place like I’d like a local hideaway, it was fun and vibrant.
When it came to choosing food I struggled with what to get, but I knew I wanted something along the lines of meat and cheese.
I liked their menu system. I could pick 1-3 cheeses and 1-3 meats, all for myself.
I could also get added on nibbles to enjoy with it, or go for a main dish.
I loved how they took traditional ideas and made them interesting, and different from other places offering meats and cheese.
As soon as I saw the pastrami beef heart I was so curious that I just had to get it, along with the Vermont farmstead Lille cheese – a creamy and buttery cows milk cheese.
My husband decided on the Mac and cheese; both where excellent choices.
First though, let me tell you about the beef heart pastrami!
It was smoked to perfection.
This is the first time I have ever tried beef heart and it was an instant win; so tender and flavorfully rich that I literally looked like an animal putting more and more into my face-hole.
I even convinced my husband to try it, and he’s not usually so adventurous with meat cuts at times, but he loved it too.
In fact, we loved it so much that I searched for places to buy it locally to try and make it myself – that’s how fantastic this pastrami really was.
I will no longer want the common pastrami after this evening, as Armsby Abbey has taken the number one spot, and I couldn’t care less.
From now on I vow to not eat a single piece of pastrami again until I can get beef heart one more time.
I also noted on top the little pieces of what I thought to be ginger; later I’d learn that it was the Orange rind in the Orange Gremolata.
Orange Gremolata is made up of minced garlic, orange rind, parsley, salt, and pepper.
It really cut through the smokiness of the beef and added a really nice touch, but in all honesty I believe a little bit of garlic goes a long way, and anything it touches meat-wise is a win for me.
Next came the cheese; it had a great creaminess to it that reminded me of a clotted cream (texture wise) and noted the beautiful buttery taste with every bite that the menu had stated.
I loved how it came with thinly sliced apple for a crisp fruity bite, and a generous dollop of what I think was bamboo honey.
The creaminess of the cheese mixed with a piece of apple, a piece of beef heart pastrami, and a delicious slice of freshly baked bread was just out of this world; I couldn’t get enough.
Surprisingly my platter options where very filling, and I found myself extremely satisfied with my two dishes; longing for the next time I’d come back and order them again; I also never stopped talking about the beef heart pastrami to everyone and anyone who would listen for the rest of the week.
Now for the Mac and cheese.
It was hard to get a good picture of the Mac and cheese in the dim light, but I tried to do it justice.
When it was placed in front of my husband it was almost unrecognizable; the bread pieces had been placed across the top of the whole pot, hiding those delicious macaronis inside like a macaroni bunker.
Of course I had to try some of it, and was blown away by the crispy on the outside and soft on the inside bread pieces; I’m not sure how they cooked them before the baking but I’m almost sure they didn’t just get that way from an oven.
With a piece of bread down the hatch, I dug a fork deep into the mac and cheese; I heard the squelch of cheesy goodness as I pulled my fork out towards my mouth – steam billowing up like smoke fire – and instantly turned to my husband wide eyed.
This was a great Mac and cheese!
I could taste the IPA that had been used and noticed it was nice and hoppy to the taste; I also wish I knew which cheeses they’d used in their assortment of cheeses listed on the menu; at first I tasted a little foot cheese, but it was canceled out almost immediately with something sharp and something creamy; it was Mac and cheese heaven.
I also like how they added the breadcrumbs into the mix, because it really made the cheese stick to the macaroni even more, making it almost a fitness regime to chew each and every gooey, sticky, bite; it was a cheesy dream.
I know this picture of the inside could have probably been left out of the article, but I just had to show you the internal mash up of Mac and cheese first hand with all its ingredients.
My first trip to the Armsby Abbey had been a huge success, and I could see now why my husband had made it a tradition to come back every time he was in the city; I was already looking forward to my next visit, and I really didn’t have to wait that long.
Armsby Abbey – take two!
After a day away we entered the Armsby Abbey once more, on a Friday evening, and I was grateful to see a table open this time.
Quickly I sat down, almost sure I was going to destroy another plate of beef heart pastrami, but something caught my eye… POUTINE!
And not just poutine, oh no, poutine with a fried egg on top; unsure of how I missed it the first time, but secretly happy because it meant I got to try beef heart pastrami, I showed it to my husband – holding the menu across the table.
He didn’t say a word, only looked at me with a knowing smile.
My inner egg slut could not be contained, of course I was having that!
My husband ordered wings for the evening, and we both scanned the drink menu.
Once again my husband was tempted by the Trillium Seesaw, but I opted to go with a ‘Higher Ground’ Pinot Noir.
The Pinot noir was made in California with red berries, plums, and cranberries; it was so fruity that it really didn’t feel as though I was drinking wine at all – more of a juice – but I enjoyed the edgy taste to it with the touch of tobacco flavors present in the mix… so much so that I finished three glasses during our time there, and my husband matched me with beer – oops.
It wasn’t long before my poutine arrived, and I hate to say it but I totally missed a picture of my husbands wings; I was so hungry I didn’t even physically look at his wings, I just dived face first into my incredible looking poutine.
It tasted how it looked – insanely good!
The fries where homemade and fried to absolute crispy perfection; I could even taste that they where fried in maybe a lard or an animal fat.
All around the top of the fries were bundles of cheese curds – the mother-load being under the egg – and they where so soft and melted that I got a piece with almost every single bite.
The gravy was nestled away at the bottom, hiding almost out of sight, but I didn’t let that worry me as I noticed quickly that the gravy went a very long way once mixed; I also liked that it was not overpowering to the dish.
Sometimes a gravy can be so strong that it’s all you taste in the bite, but this one was so subtle, and yet full of flavor, that it didn’t take away from any other element of the poutine; each item of food complimented another, instead of taking the limelight, and made the whole dish one big beautiful heap that was literally a slice of tastebud heaven.
But the egg… let me tell you about the egg…
I tapped the yolk gently with the tip of my fork and watched as the beautiful creamy yellow liquid cascaded down the mountain, letting no French fry or cheese curd stop it, until it joined the gravy at the base of the dish for a liquid love affair.
Every bite left me wanting more, and although poutine is usually a favorite choice of mine during the colder months, it’s made even better with an egg on top.
I mean, who am I kidding?! Everything is better with an egg on top… I learnt that from my time in Japan.
With the night getting late, and a 12 hour day of work to commence in the AM, it was time to say our goodbyes to the Armsby Abbey.
Both trips where memorable, not only for the delicious drinks and the food, but for the atmosphere and the amazing staff that went along with it.
To everyone at the Armsby Abbey, who made our time fantastic, I thank you.
We will definitely be back when we’re in the area again, and that’s a promise.
Until next time,