After hearing about Chef Sean Dowling from a friend, I decided to hit his restaurant, Alton's. Alton's is located in Cornelius, at the Crossroads of Jetton and W. Catawba in the the Jetton III complex (the one with the Harris Teeter). It's kinda hard to find, but apparently it's where Mia Famiglia was originally located -- sorta behind the Chinese restaurant.
When I walked in I was surprised to see that Alton's has two levels. The main dining level has the dining room and bar. While the upstairs looks over the dining level, and is presumably above the kitchen -- would probably be a great place to hold a private party.
I approached the hostess and was immediately seated. The tables are covered with black and white tablecloths, and the chairs are a dark wood. Chandeliers provide the light, which was kept to a minimum. This is good when having a romantic dinner -- bad when trying to read the editorial section of the Observer (as I was trying to do).
I looked over the menu, and noticed some of the usual things. Meats, fish, salads were all there, and then something caught my eye... a New England Lobster Roll. A New England Lobster Roll?? In Cornelius???? It's so crazy it just might work!
So, I asked my waitress about it. (FYI, if you go, ask for Brittany -- she was awesome.) She informed me that it was a mayo-based lobster salad with tarragon. The lobster is fresh; imported live from New England, the lobster is cooked on the premises.
In the mood for something different, I placed my order for the Lobster Roll, and decided to treat myself to the Tangle Oaks Chardonnay. Brittany informed me that if I like my Chardonnay oaky, this was the one for me. Fortunately, I like my Chards oaky, so I took her recommendation.
The wine list is good, with many offered by the glass. And I've gotta say, the Tangle Oaks Chardonnay from Santa Barbara was amazing. Smooth and oaky with a great nose, there was little acidic kick to this wine. Not only was the wine great, but it was a perfect compliment to the Lobster Roll -- who woulda thought?
The Lobster Roll consisted of large chunks of lobster that, surprisingly, weren't rubbery. The lobster came lightly coated with a mayo (and possibly sour cream) based sauce, and had the usual veggies (onions, celery, etc.) and spices.
The truth is, this was my first Lobster Roll, and I didn't know what to expect. But it was delicious.
I was a little taken aback by the large slice of folded bread that held the lobster salad. Buttered and lightly toasted on both sides, it looked more like Texas Toast than a bun. But when I talked to Chef Sean, I was informed that it is indeed a roll that they import from New England just for this sandwich. Even though it wasn't what I was expecting, it was still good.
The sides for this meal almost over shadowed the entree. The Kettle Chips were salty, crunchy, and delicious, while the coleslaw was amazing. Simply put, it may be the best coleslaw that I've ever had. EVER! Crunchy and tangy, this was a great compliment to the creamy and not-so-crunchy Lobster Roll.
At the end I was feeling slightly peckish, and decided on a slice of the Tiramisu Cheesecake. Topped with a layer of chocolate and home-made whipped cream, this was a decadent dessert. It melted in my mouth, and I wanted to take an entire cake home with me.
Price: $$$$ (including wine, dessert and tip, it was almost $40)
Kid Friendly: Yes. They have a small kids menu, and several families were dining there.
Conclusion: The prices and decadent food make this restaurant less likely to be an every-day hangout and more of a special occasion restaurant. But the food was amazing and the service was fantastic. I highly recommend you give it a try.
Alton's Kitchen and Cocktails
19918 North Cove Road
Cornelius, NC 28031
http://www.altonskitchen.com/ (not yet working)