By Donna Faye
You could say sparks flew when Mike Roulston first encountered the world of haute cuisine. Literally. “At the age of 22, I walked through the door from the Armani’s nightclub to the kitchen and there were pans on fire,” says Roulston, who was bartending at the time. “I literally became addicted to food from that night on.” When he wasn’t at work, he would devour books about cooking, especially French cuisine, and test dishes on friends and family. And when he was at work, he would barrage the chefs, Tom Simpson in particular, with questions about herbes de provence and lardons.
Roulston’s newfound interest in fine cuisine was far more than a mere hobby. “I started to make menus for my restaurants and dream about what I was going to call them,” he says. After Armani’s, Roulston worked as a waiter at Harrington Court and then Bistro One, where he discovered a new passion, fine wine—a subject he studied and discussed at length with chef Jean Robillard. Seven years ago, Roulston’s dream finally became a reality with the opening of Lot 66. His signature dish is lobster, served with butter and lemon and a side of rice, accompanied by Russian River Chardonnay or Marceau Burgundy. But Roulston’s favourite go-to dish is a far simpler: risotto with porcini mushrooms, arugula, truffle accompanied by a Barolo, or a tomato, basil, lobster risotto with a Chardonnay. The philosophy behind Roulston’s popular menu is equally simple. “There are no set rules,” he says. “Just have fun.”
From our February 2013 issue: