By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Oct 01, 2014 at 11:04 AM

For the eighth straight year, October is Dining Month on, presented by Locavore, the newest restaurant at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, delectable features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food, as well as the winners of our "Best of Dining 2014."

As of Monday evening, residents of Wauwatosa have yet another new restaurant to add to their "to visit" list.

A second location for Hue Vietnamese restaurant is now open at 6519 W. North Ave.

The building, owned by real estate developer Joshua Jeffers, has undergone a complete renovation which removed most existing walls, opened up the ceiling and created a restaurant space with plenty of natural light. A "convertible room" adjacent to the main dining room provides overflow seating, and may be developed for other projects, according to Mark Nielsen, who owns Hue with his wife Carina (Cat) Tran.

Walls are donned in warm reds, oranges and yellows and sport a variety of both modern and classic Vietnamese art, most of which was brought back to the states from Hue.

"Some pieces have historical value," says Nielsen. "Others carry personal stories and memories."

For instance, a large piece of art along the eastern wall displays traditional Vietnamese hats worn by Tran’s relatives. Some, Nielsen says, have names marked on them.

Another piece on the south wall depicts a river scene in Hue, and an adjacent collection of laquerware illustrates everyday tasks of Vietnamese peasants. Ink drawings displayed to the east are examples of Đông Hồ village art, which depicts folk stories and allegories including a rat’s wedding, a good luck print with roosters, and activities like male wrestling.

The dining room seats 70-80, with an additional 20 seats around the custom oak bar, built by Nielsen and his brother, a cabinet-maker from Iowa.

The bar, which will serve craft cocktails, also holds 10 tap lines, two of which will feature wines – a Chardonnay and Cabernet Savignon from Boomtown, which will be offered along with bottled selections. Craft beers will occupy the remaining taps and will include offerings from Lakefront, Dogfish Head, Founders, Ale Asylum, Potosi and Goose Island, along with Hitachino White Ale, a specialty beer from Japan.

Beer, Nielsen says, is likely to play a growing role on the Hue menu.

"We’d really like to start working beer into more of our specials," he says. "I know we’re a Vietnamese restaurant – and so we’re not supposed to do it – but people really appreciate the fact that we’re a little different, so we’re going to go with it."

While most menu items offered in Bay View have made it onto the Tosa menu – including spicy crab rangoon, skewered lemongrass beef, pho, grilled meats and noodle and rice dishes – there are a few changes. For instance, Bánh Xeo, the Vietnamese pan-fried "crepe" will only be available in Bay View. However, Nem Nướng (marinated sweet pork sausage) served on lemongrass skewers is a new dish created for the Tosa location. Likewise, the curry in Tosa will be less brothy than that served in Bay View.

Seafood will also continue to be a feature on the menu, especially in the form of specials.

"Last time we visited Đà Nẵng we learned a great deal about different types of seafood and ways to serve it," Nielsen notes. "So, we’ll be eager to see what we can get a hold of to include on the menu."

For now, Nielsen says the restaurant will feature standards like the Hue fish fry – featuring Vietnamese beer battered swai, a catfish commonly eaten in Thailand and Vietnam, with Thai basil aioli instead of tartar sauce and served alongside garlic and onion fried rice.

Ultimately, Nielsen says he wants the two Hue locations to take on the character of their respective neighborhoods – growing to be unique spaces with their own personality.

"We want the two places to stand on their own," Nielsen says. "This is chapter two, not a rewrite."

The restaurant’s spacious patio will debut in spring of 2015. Tran, whose grandparents owned a pig roasting company in Vietnam, says she looks forward to hosting a variety of events in the outdoor space, including a classic Vietnamese pig roast.

Hue is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Takeout is available.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

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.