Since opening in May 2010, Hue, a Vietnamese restaurant in Bay View, has gained a reputation for food that is fresh, delicious and approachable. From homemade long-simmering pho to hand-rolled spring rolls and egg rolls, Hue's menu focuses on using seasonal ingredients to produce the best in traditional dishes from Central Vietnam. And they've made quite the impression.
The restaurant, which recently started staying open for lunch, is now working to attract more of a late-night crowd to its bar and lounge. As a start, they've hired Waukesha native and expert bartender Nicholas Koehler, whose resume includes time behind the bar at the Cool Water Bar & Grill, Iron Horse Hotel, Umami Moto, The Ambassador Hotel and Meze Lounge.
"We have a real emphasis on handmade food, and we source locally as often as possible," says co-owner Mark Nielsen. "Having Nick on board has allowed us to take a similar approach with our drinks."
Nick makes his own infused liquors using spices from the Spice House and herbs grown in the restaurant's Bay View garden. He also has a penchant for creativity, which shows in the way he's re-created a series of special cocktails and classic tiki drinks, which will be featured at Hue on Thursday evenings.
"I love tiki drinks ... who doesn't?" says Koehler. "Although we're not a tiki bar, we thought it would be great to offer something creative and fun to our guests. And there's not much more fun than tiki."
Koehler's drinks include the Cinnamon Basil Smash, a warming autumn cocktail featuring Ceylon cinnamon syrup, fresh basil, gin, lemon juice and ginger beer; the Jack in the Box, made with Jack fruit and five-spice syrup; and the Ruffigan, made with pineapple-infused rum, lime, St. Germain and homemade dark Falernum, a low-proof brew with bright citrus notes and hints of cinnamon, almonds, cloves and allspice.
Classic tiki drinks will include deliciously fruity options like the Billy Ocean, a rumchata and Kahlua-based cocktail with Appleton 12-year rum, cinnamon syrup and Falernum; the infamous Mai Tai; and the tropical drink-lover's dream, the Pain Killer, with Navy rum, Coco Lopez, pineapple juice and lime. Bar-goers seeking a delicious-but-high-octane option will want to opt for the Jet Pilot, a three-rum tiki drink with Lemonhart 151, cinnamon, lime, grapefruit and Pernod.
The brand new late-night bar menu, with items served through 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, will include delicious snacks like tempura green beans served with Sriracha mayo, pork egg rolls, beef skewers marinated with lemongrass, ginger and soy, spicy crab Rangoon (made with three different chiles) and sweet and spicy chicken wings.
Hue's bar area, which seats 10, is the perfect spot to enjoy a late night drink and appetizers. With warm burgundy walls and a solid wood bar, the décor is simple, cozy and relaxing. A wicker settee and chairs just to the right of the main bar serve as a waiting area during dinner hours and lounge seating later on.
New nightly bar specials include $2 Pabst and Schlitz Tallboys on Tuesdays; weekly, rotating vegetarian specials and discounts on all Asian beers on Wednesdays; Thursday Tiki Night, featuring classic tiki cocktails for $8 and weekly house creations; a special late night menu served until 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and half-price bottles of wine on Sundays.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.