CORNELIUS – What do you call exceptional attention to detail?

When every menu item is researched and developed for at least six months. When the side dishes are elevated to superstar status and not just an afterthought. When the owners go on culinary trips several times to year to see inventive and amazing new food.

You would call that Alton’s Kitchen & Cocktails, where the food, service, décor and minute features are all elevated to the highest degree.

Alton Updike and his partner, Heather Clark, own Alton’s Kitchen.

They have worked in the restaurant business since they were 15 years old.

In 2004, they came to Charlotte to help open a restaurant and began to love the area. So in 2010, they decided to go out on their own and open up a restaurant.

“By this point, Heather and I had a daughter and were ready to create our own place and have a less frantic life,” Updike said. “We found this space and were open months later!”

The space is amazing. When the customer walks in, it feels like being in Europe or New Orleans. There are two curving staircases on either end of the main room winding their way up to a second level; the first level is hidden from view by a six-foot wall. To the left, down a hall, is the bar area which opens up with high top seating and lots of windows.

“We had to expand the bar eating area,” Updike said. “It was such a popular place to both eat and wait for a table.” The restaurant is elegant without being stuffy and the food is nuanced without being fussy.

The menu is classic American fare with original twists. Take the famous Lobster Bisque.

“A worker brought me in a recipe and it was just terrible,” Updike said. “But it had a fun addition of whipped mashed potatoes as a garnish.”

So he worked up a new recipe over six months and added in that potato embellishment. The result is a decadent soup with a homey splash.

There is also a tomato basil bisque with grilled cheese croutons proving that the sides and garnishes are just as important as the main dish.

Another must try item is the Shrimp New Orleans. This masterpiece of tastiness consists of a rich, brown Creole sauce that covers the shrimp and rice.

The restaurant makes all its sauces, stocks, dressing, marinades and soups.

“Just about anything we can make from scratch, we do,” Updike said.

The restaurant is also very kid-friendly. Children eat free every day from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Even the kid’s menu is full of amazing fare. The chicken tenders are full of white meat and hand dipped into the batter; the mac and cheese is homemade; the pizza is served on a cracker thin crust out of a real pizza oven and there is roasted salmon.

Alton’s is open for lunch every day and for brunch on the weekends.

Updike has created an amazing restaurant for the food lover. The menu has been tested so much that the customer can blindly choose an item and be assured it will be amazing.

“We want our guests to come over and over again,” Updike said. “We want to be the restaurant for all occasions.”

Want to go? Alton’s Kitchen & Cocktails, 19918 North Cove Road, 704-655-2727.