ML - Boston Common


Boston Common - Niche Media - A side of Boston that's anything but common.

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VIEW FROM THE TOP continued from page 53 seasonal dishes and sides, often sourced with local ingredients. "We usually start with 20 items, refine it down to 12, and then we make six or eight adjustments," he says. Feighery, 47, has the distinguished looks of a maturing Hollywood star. He calls each line cook and waitperson by name; they know him simply as Mike. "A suit and tie don't make you a manager," he says. "They just make you a guy who owns a suit and tie." Born in London to landlords of a working-class pub, Feighery— the third of five children—spent his youth darting in and out behind the bar's kitchen with his older brother and sister. His mother and father poured the beer, and waiters served English edibles. But as the troubles began in Northern Ireland and violence spilled over into England, the city became a difficult place for his family. " A suit doesn't make you a manger. It just makes you a guy who owns a suit. " Feighery and executive chef Matt King discuss the restaurant's new cocoa and coffee-rubbed filet. Feighery, who had a terrible stutter as a boy, was taunted. He once came home from school to find GO HOME, IRISH scrawled on his doorstep. His family moved to Ireland in 1974. After completing school, Feighery got a job as a dishwasher and prep cook at the Black Board Restaurant, and later at Coffers Steakhouse in Dublin—a favorite haunt of young bankers, where he learned to pan- sear and make savory sauces, stock from scratch, and a perfect crust using herb rubs. Later, he was head chef at Rosleague Manor Hotel, a 20-room inn in Galway, where he followed the locavore philosophy long before the term entered the foodie lexicon. "Guests would hand- select their vegetables from the garden, catch a fish in the ocean, or shoot game in the woods, and I would prepare it for dinner," he says. The job at Rosleague was important to Feighery for two reasons: He learned that food could be a career; and he fell in love with a waitress, the woman who would become his wife. "She was the best waitress I've ever seen," he says. "No one juggles tables like she did." The two emigrated to the US in 1985, and Feighery went to work for Smith & Wollensky, where he quickly earned promotions: from butcher's assistant to kitchen manager to floor manager. As the brand expanded, Feighery directed new restaurant openings in Miami, Chicago, and Las Vegas. By 2006, he was vice president of western operations, based in Las Vegas. Business was booming. Then the global financial crisis hit, and luxury spending shriveled. Corporate dining accounted for roughly 60 percent of Smith & Wollensky's business before the crash, and the company hurt from slashed expense accounts. Rather than cut Feighery found this bookend at a local antiques gallery. costs, however, Feighery dug in. He helped orches- trate cosmetic upgrades to restaurants and oversaw personnel changes, including the hiring of a national beverage director, chief financial officer, and new vice president of marketing. The company also sought social business more aggressively. Today, catering and private dining repre- sent 16 percent of revenue, doubled from three years ago. "The [economic crisis] made us control our restau- rants better. It made us realize we could be better. We needed to give guests the best experience possible." Married for 21 years with two young daughters, Feighery is now moving his family to Boston with no regrets about leaving behind the glitz of the Vegas strip. "In Boston I am closer to Ireland," he says. He just built a house in Ireland overlooking the ocean. Of his Horatio Alger story, he says: "America always had a total fascination for me. I still think I'm on vacation. If it ends tomorrow, it will be okay. No one gets a ride like this." BC 54 BOSTONCOMMON-MAGAZINE.COM streets of Beacon Hill—it reminds me of Dublin. There's so much history here about how this nation evolved, and as an immigrant, I feel part of that. Then I pop into Mr. Dooley's Boston Tavern, this beautiful Irish pub just up the street. It's got the best pint of Guinness in town, an engaging bartender, and no TVs." life philosophy "I worry about everything that could possibly go wrong, and then when it doesn't, I'm happy." TABLE TALK Choice advice from Michael Feighery best order "I like my steak medium rare with extra char and potatoes any way you can make them. For dessert, I have to go with our warm butter cake. It's a simple, homely recipe—basically a cake with twice the butter." best advice for vegetarians "Call ahead. Engage with the manager. The restaurant may not have the perfect dish on the menu, but it has ingredients. Try to mix and match: If you see something you like, such as Portobello mushrooms, see what the chef can do with those, some goat cheese, and roasted red peppers. Make that connection." best boston afternoon "Walking around the cobblestone

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