Tampa Bay’s Best Dish: Michael Stewart

April 1, 2014 | South Tampa Magazine | Categories: Editorial, Food | Tags: 13 Ugly Men, 717, 717 South, Council Oak, Michael Stewart, Robert Masson, Seminole Hard Rock Tampa

Tampa Bay’s Best Dish: Long Bone Cowboy Ribeye

The owner of 717 South, Michael Stewart picks the cowboy ribeye from Council Oak at the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa


When was the first time you had the steak at Council Oak?

I was with my wife, Lindsay, before the 13 Ugly Men “White Party.” Joining us was my good friends, Gene and Rose Sullivan, GM Southern Wine and Spirits. I believe we ordered just about everything on the menu, including a bottle of Quintessa Cabernet, one of my favorites.

What makes it one of the best in Tampa Bay?

I ordered the 28oz Bone-in Ribeye. The flavor, the marbling, the execution of it all… and the burnt personalized initials in the bone are a really good bonus. The cool factor is off the charts.

What’s one food you won’t eat? Lima Beans.

If you weren’t a restaurateur, what would you be doing?

Close call, probably a veterinarian. All of my life, I have had this fascination with animals and wildlife. I know it’s in my genes because my 5-year-old daughter, Ava, is just like me; we’re always adopting or rescuing animals. She constantly talks about animals… even on her Pre-K report card, which said, “Ava has a wonderful imagination and spends most of the time re-arranging the animal play area, and making a zoo out of all of the animals.”

My back up would have been a music producer. I have been in writing and composing music since the age of 12. I love working with other artists and collaborating.

What was your first job in the restaurant world?

Hosting. It has always been my favorite part. I am a people person and at the front of the house, you can talk to everyone. There is something genuine about meeting people for the first time. Also, the host is like the “conductor” for the front of the house… just keep the music flowing.

Talk about your restaurant. What influenced your menu?

Robert Masson, our award-winning chef, has come up with a wonderful sound menu that is constantly changing. Initially, we were influenced with Italy and the Pacific Rim Region. Lately, we have evolved into a New American cuisine specializing in fresh seafood to hand-cut steaks. Everything in our restaurant is made in-house and fresh daily, from appetizers to desserts, salad dressings to sauces. We’ve been that fresh, local and original restaurant, from Day 1, before it became popular.

What’s your guilty food pleasure?

Chocolate chip cookies, mint cookies, butterscotch cookies, white macadamia nut cookies, oatmeal cookies, sugar cookies, ginger bread cookies, chocolate cookies and any Girl Scout cookie.

What’s one ingredient you always have to have in the kitchen?

Toss-up between sugar and olive oil

What’s the best dish you can make?

Banana pancakes. I love them.

Who’s your favorite celebrity chef?

Ford Fry from the Optimist, Atlanta


Long Bone Cowboy Ribeye

By: Council Oak

USDA prime steak dry aged for 21 days


Council Oak is located in the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa at 5223 N. Orient Rd., Tampa, FL 33610. For more information, visit www.SeminoleHardRockTampa.com or call (813) 627-7628.