Juanita Bowie contacted me last week to announce that she and her daughter, La Tisha, have reopened Harbor Restaurant and Bar (now called Harbor's Soul Food) at 3500 Paris Ave. (282-1060). Bowie's mother, Irma Harbor, opened the restaurant's first incarnation on Tchoupitoulas Street in the Warehouse District in 1949, moving in 1980 to the Faubourg Marigny building that now houses Cafe Unique (2529 Dauphine St., 948-8884). Bowie inherited Harbor when her mother passed away in 1992; she says she fought to keep her lease when the building was sold to Cafe Unique's owner, Changiz (Chad) Esmail, but ultimately surrendered and hunted out the new location. Harbor fans will be happy to hear that Bowie took Mr. Dennis, aka Big D, with her. Health problems prohibit Big D from long hours in the kitchen, so other employees help him prepare Harbor's renowned gumbo and banana pudding. Like Esmail, Bowie retained other Harbor cooks, two of whom worked for her mother at the original Tchoupitoulas Street location. Harbor's Soul Food carries on the family tradition in a patriotic-themed dining room from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Victor's, the fine dining venue in the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans (921 Canal St., 524-13310), spent its annual August hiatus exorcising the cutting-edge visions of former chef Frank Brunacci (the man who introduced us to olive oil ice cream) and coming to grips with what Ritz-Carlton guests in New Orleans want. Victor's often-empty dining room indicated that it was too highfalutin in this city even for a luxury hotel. The restaurant reopened last week as Victor's Grill, a no-jacket-required chophouse influenced by local tastes and seasonal products. Chef Matthew Murphy, also the chef at the hotel's French Quarter Bar, is now in charge. A native of Ireland, Murphy is in all-American territory at Victor's Grill. There's even fruit pie a la mode on the dessert list. Victor's Grill is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday.
Ladies may "Storm the Sazerac" for the 54th year running from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 26, at the Fairmont Hotel's Sazerac Bar (123 Baronne St., 529-4733). Prior to 1949, women were allowed to enter the ancient bar (which has existed in various locations) on Mardi Gras Day only. This "nostalgia party" is free for anyone dressed in 1940s attire; $7.50 for women not in costume; and $19.49 for men not in costume. The Sazerac Restaurant will also feature a special $19.49 dinner menu.