Timing is everything in the restaurant business. For instance, back when Cameron Mitchell - who often exhibits terrific timing - sold his Fish Market and namesake steakhouse chains in 2008, he was asked to agree to a non-compete clause stipulating he not open a steakhouse for five years. Mitchell agreed and promptly raked in $92 million.

Timing is everything in the restaurant business. For instance, back when Cameron Mitchell - who often exhibits terrific timing - sold his Fish Market and namesake steakhouse chains in 2008, he was asked to agree to a non-compete clause stipulating he not open a steakhouse for five years. Mitchell agreed and promptly raked in $92 million.

Fast-forward through an ensuing global financial crisis, the fulfillment of that non-compete clause and a new economic climate in which Mitchell's former chains resold for only $10 million. Moving to the present, Mitchell's restaurant empire is again rapidly growing; with the recent opening of The Avenue Steak Tavern in Grandview, it now numbers more than 25 establishments.

So is this a good time for a "steak tavern"? Based on The Avenue's crowd-pleasing food, appealing supper-club ambience and constantly packed house, I'd say Mitchell's timing is terrific again.

With red, two-person booths, low amber lighting, wood-paneled walls bearing old-timey photographs and a wonderful jazz soundtrack, The Avenue hits a sweet spot between spiffy and casual, retro and new. In fact, it reminds me of a contemporary version of the venerable old Pine Club in Dayton.

One group of cocktails (Classics, $10) is listed with the respective years of their ostensible creation (1798 to 1938) and includes the Sloe Tom Collins, which tastes like fruit-kissed lemonade with a kick. The other group ($11) comprises cocktails named after New York City boroughs and includes the strong, smooth and orange-scented Brooklyn. Both drinks are pink-tinted, and both are winners.

Wines by the glass range from $7 to $20. Two solid options are the crisp Hecht & Bannier Provencal rose ($11) and the relatively polished Clarendelle Red ($13) produced by the owners of Chateau Haut-Brion, an exalted Bordeaux estate.

Because The Avenue's service is the stellar type for which Mitchell's restaurants are duly famous, I was twice surprised not to be offered fresh pepper for salads like other diners were. But both $6 salads - a Caesar with cheese crisps plus a creamy-yet-lemony dressing, and The Tavern, a riff on a Columbus classic (the 55 House Salad) with crumbled blue cheese and a sweet dressing - were pleasant and thoughtfully presented on chilled plates.

For a more substantial starter, try the Shrimp Dejonghe ($14). One of many old-school seafood appetizers, it's about a half-dozen sweet and plump shrimp flattered by a butter sauce and garlicky bread crumbs. The straightforward French Onion Soup ($6.50) also satisfies with a hefty, blistered cheese cap and long-cooked, onion-sweetened beef broth.

Cutting to the chase, and into the steaks, my 12-ounce Ribeye was expertly cooked. Like most steaks here, it's served with a salad and a side, such as a virtual layer cake of crispy hash browns with a caramelized onion center. The steak was good, but I expected something more tender for $36.

I thought the long, thin and delicious Steak Frites ($28) - a lean-but-fork-tender, 10-ounce flank steak served with excellent shoestring fries and a salad - was a better value. Yes, I wish it had more detectable chimichurri sauce, but I'd eat it again, just as it was, in a heartbeat.

Steaks are showcased, but the simple menu exhibits some versatility with seafood entrees, a couple pasta dishes and three affordable sandwiches that include the Nashville-style Crispy "Hot Chicken" Biscuit ($13) served with fries (my substituted side: "chop house corn" - off-the-cob, tangy, salty, irresistible).

The sandwich packs tender breast slabs with a spicy-sauced and crackly batter, pickles and a slaw-type garnish into a big, flaky biscuit. Nashville-style fried chicken is hot, literally and figuratively, so I found the timing for this offering to be terrific - just like its taste.