Steak Out

War is hell on steakhouse chains.

Don't hold your breath waiting for Columbus-based M. Cameron Mitchell to open one of his popular steakhouses in Cleveland. Spokesperson Carolyn Delp confirms that the planned outpost, along with several of the multiconcept restaurant group's other projects, has been delayed indefinitely. Delp says the war in Afghanistan and the faltering economy influenced the decision. "Right now, we aren't even going to think about [the move into this market] until after the first of the year." The company, owned and operated by 38-year-old biz whiz and chef M. Cameron Mitchell, had revealed last summer that it was giving serious consideration to opening a steakhouse in the theater district, on the site of the former Hickerson's at the Hanna, by October 2002.

Keys note . . .

Despite Mitchell's caution, other restaurateurs continue to take the plunge. Tremont's newest dining room, 88 Keys (2417 Professor Street, 216-781-8858), opened December 1, with a moderately priced menu of what Executive Chef Seth Pettit calls "no boundaries" cuisine -- everything from lobster cannelloni ($18), with roasted tomato mousseline sauce, to cider-glazed chicken breast ($19), with braised greens, roasted sweet potatoes, and parsnip puree. As for the upscale, art-deco atmosphere, owner Terry Mitchell says it's pure romance, with white linens, candlelight, flowers, a baby grand piano, and "sultry" lounge singers. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday; Sunday brunches will begin shortly.

Worldly flavors . . .

Restaurants with international flair keep popping up in Westlake. Among them is good-looking Brendan O'Neill's (30006 Detroit Road, in Westbay Plaza; 440-892-7825), an Irish pub and restaurant jam-packed with art and artifacts direct from the Auld Sod. Open since November 11, the pub has a well-stocked bar and a menu of authentic-sounding dishes like boxty, corned beef and cabbage, and imported black-and-white blood sausages, mostly in the $10 range. Hours are 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. daily. Then, there's Affamato (30610 Detroit Road; 440-892-1455), a clean, welcoming Italian deli, restaurant, and specialty market in Savannah Commons, offering everything from soppressata to sfogliatelle. Affable Chef Pete Schellenbach says that, when the place first opened in June 2000, the emphasis was squarely on carryout. But his customers kept begging for table service. As a result, Affamato has been serving dinner -- dishes like three-meat lasagna, chicken Marsala, and four-cheese tortellini -- since September; dinner hours are Monday through Friday, 4 to 8 p.m.