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Brunch Break

Brunch Break
February 2018

Restaurateur Karalee Nielsen Fallert whips up a mid-morning spread of savory baked eggs with mushrooms, honeycrisp apple salad, and tangy Aperol spritzers

PHOTO: Karalee Nielsen Fallert brunches with her husband, Chris, and son, Harley.

When you operate as many restaurants as there are days in the week, your plate remains pretty full. Add the launch of two new dining locations, hours of volunteer service to the urban community and school garden nonprofit The Green Heart Project, construction on an Edisto Island family farm, and a bouncy infant to the mix, and frequent dinners out become necessary. “Still, I crave cooking at home,” says Karalee Nielsen Fallert, co-owner of The Park Cafe, The Royal American, two Taco Boy locations (with more on the way!), and the soon-to-be-open Wiki Wiki Sandbar, as well as founding partner of Closed for Business, Monza, and Poe’s Tavern. Since she and husband Chris welcomed their son, Harley, 10 months ago, the couple has found that the best opportunity to enjoy homemade meals falls on slow weekend mornings—and so brunch prepared in their own downtown kitchen is often the highlight of Fallert’s full schedule.

In the same way that she conceptualized all of her unique eateries, the restaurateur developed her main dish—baked eggs with pan-roasted mushrooms—with experimentation and field research. “I’m a mycophile [a person who loves mushrooms] and am obsessed with fungus in general,” says Fallert, who gathers shiitakes, maitakes, lion’s manes, and oyster varieties from the farmers markets in Marion Square and at Pacific Box & Crate. For brunch, she slices a mix of the mushrooms and sautés them in grapeseed oil, which she utilizes for its high smoking temperature and neutral flavor. Once caramelized, the fungi get tossed with crème fraiche to add tangy creaminess to the dish. “The result reminds me of beef stroganoff,” notes the cook. To finish, Fallert creates mushroom nests in individual ramekins and tops them each with a fresh egg from Storey Farms—her favorite free-range chicken farm on John’s Island—before baking. She serves them with Parmesan toasts on the side, a throwback to a satisfying breakfast her mom served when Fallert was a little girl.

As a light and crunchy accompaniment, Fallert tosses together a honeycrisp apple salad using produce that’s available in February but offers a peek into spring. Finally, the restaurateur tweaked an Aperol cocktail from The Park Cafe, swapping in ruby red grapefruit juice for the standard o.j., then adding vermouth and sparkling white wine to the aperitif-citrus mixture—think of it as an up-tempo version of a mimosa.

In the Kitchen with Karalee Nielsen Fallert

Lives: Downtown with her husband, Chris, and their son, Harley (10 months)
Works: As the co-owner of The Park Café, The Royal American, Taco Boy, and the forthcoming Wiki Wiki Sandbar
Morning Makeover: “The best breakfasts involve tossing leftovers from the night before—it can be Indian food or pasta—with scrambled eggs.”