London Lite Wednesday, 14 October 2009 27 Diwali dinners Light bites: a Diwali banquet at Seasoning, above, and festive dishes from Masala Zone, left, and Madhus in Southall, right Litebites Foodanddrinknews ChefsSohoventureisabitHixandmiss THE IVYS former head chef Mark Hix extends his empire with a bold West End restaurant/bar that suggests hes out to rival his former celeb-haunt employer. But will the celebs come? Will anyone? Situated in the dead zone between Piccadilly Circus and Regent Street, Hix feels somewhat like a cavernous canteen, with bent chairs and brown paper menus. Downstairs, a clubby basement bar (open until 3am) serves comfort snacks such as fish fingers. Upstairs, wines on the pricey side, an average 35-50 a bottle. As youd expect if youve been to Hixs Oyster And Chop Mixed bag: Hixs slightly eccentric British menu will appeal to oyster lovers House in Smithfield, oysters are top of the menu. At 3.75 a pop, a single West Mersea native No1 aint cheap, but you get what you pay for: a big creamy mouthful. The menu is British with an eccentric flavour. Cods tongue with girolles anyone? Didnt think so. Mind you, Id have eaten anything after waiting an hour for our starters. When they finally arrived, we were underwhelmed by a muddy-looking 7.25 Cornish fish soup. My 11 Manx Queenies (scallops) made up in quantity what they lacked in quality and, to be fair, being fried in wild boar and bacon transformed them into garlicky yum. Mains were hit and miss. Hit being the Herdwick mutton, kidney and oyster pie (15.50). Miss being my grilled puffball with Gladys Mays duck egg and woodland mushrooms (14.75), which was bitter and rubbery. But the chips (3.95) were good. And the 7.50 Kingston Black and blackberry jelly was a triumph. So, a mixed bag. Well just have to see if Hix has what makes the A-list tick. LARUSHKA IVAN-ZADEH HIX 66-70 Brewer Street, W1 (020 7292 3518). Three-courses for two with wine, 129 Oysterfareisfree OYSTER card holders: has Le Pont De La Tour got a deal for you! Book for two for the three-course lunch or dinner menu at the Tower Bridge restaurant and you can claim a complimentary half-dozen oysters on presenting the Transport for London Oyster card. Simply remember to quote Oyster card offer when you call. Le Pont De La Tour, 36d Shad Thames, SE1 (020 7403 8403) A right royal treat THE Princess Of Shoreditch has just relaunched with a new look and elegant French-inspired menu. Chef Benot Doutres from Michelin- starred Le Moulin Des Mougins in Provence is behind the stoves, rustling up confit salmon trout with crispy fennel and lemongrass soup (6.50) and rosemary crme brle and gooseberry compote (5.50). The Princess Of Shoreditch, 76 Paul Street, EC2 (020 7729 9270) Yo! Yogurt lovers THINGS are hotting up at organic frozen yogurt vendors Frae. It may not feel like fro-yo weather, but the new hot toppings have piqued our interest. Apple rhubarb crumble, steamed syrup sponge, berry compote and caramel atop fat-free yogurt sounds pretty good, come sunshine or showers. Frae, 27 Camden Passage, Islington, N1 (frae.co.uk) Bookis so novel... THE BOOK CLUB in Shoreditch has it all. This sister bar to the Queen Of Hoxton is a sensible but cool hub of screening rooms, free wi-fi, newspapers and food by day; by night a riot of new music, parties, cocktails and evening classes that include dance, death drawing and even a spot of DIY. The Book Club, 100-106 Leonard Street, EC2 (020 7684 8618) HILARY ARMSTRONG Wellequipped Stacking storage pots ITS National Baking Week next week (19-25 October) -- just the excuse to whip up some mouthwatering masterpieces. Invest in these funky storage pots to keep your cakes, biscuits and muffins fresher for longer. 20, pinksandgreen. co.uk MasalaZone ACROSS all six of its London restau- rants, Masala Zone celebrates Diwali for the full five days of the festival, from Thursday to Monday. The menu tracks from coast to coast -- from a Gujarati veggie curry called undhiyo to a Bengali prawn malai. They can be incorporated into Masala Zones regular vegetarian and non- vegetarian thalis so you can sample plenty of dishes in one go. Set Diwali party menus are also available for larger groups in the private rooms (seating from 12-50) and at 15 a head with the added option of special desserts including gulab jamun and copious sugary mithas (sweets), its certainly a change from the average party fare. masalazone.com Amaya WE LOVE Amaya for inventing a new Diwali tradition of show-stopping cocktails garnished with silver and gold leaf. The idea reflects a belief that this is a good time to do business and to buy silver and gold. Michelin-starred Amaya also fol- lows tradition with some sumptuous veggie dishes on their Diwali menu (40), including a rich fruit curry of apricots, plums, pistachios and almonds and a biryani with morels. Coloured powder and hang- ing lanterns will garland the entrance, as is the Diwali custom. Amaya, Halkin Arcade, Motcomb Street, SW1, 020 7823 1166 MintLeaf EVEN the moody, atmospheric Mint Leaf -- think Hakkasan with a dimmer switch -- is getting in on this festival, and diners get to take Diwali home with them courtesy of a complimentary scented candle for every guest. Chef Dhayalan Paul puts the empha- sis on vegetarian dishes and toothsome sweetmeats. Starters include green pea cakes, 8, or tandoori paneer and pineap- ple (cheese and pineapple), 8, with mushroom and broccoli curry, 15. Indian sweets (ladoo and cashew burfi), 8, provide the requisite sugar rush for afters. The menu is available this Saturday and Sunday. Mint Leaf, Suffolk Place, Haymarket, SW1, 020 7930 9020 rightSouthall,inMadhusandleft,Zone,Masalafromdishesfestiveandabove,Seasoning,atbanquetDiwaliabites:Light brlecrmerosemaryand(6.50) (5.50).compotegooseberryand The Princess Of Shoreditch, 76 Paul Street, EC2 (020 7729 9270) loversYogurtYo! frozen yogurt vendors Frae. It may not feel like fro-yo weather, but the new hot toppings have piqued our interest. Apple rhubarb crumble, steamed syrup sponge, berry compote and caramel atop fat-free yogurt sounds pretty good, come sunshine or showers. Frae, 27 Camden Passage, Islington, N1 (frae.co.uk) hang-andpowderColoured garlandwilllanternsing theisasentrance,the Mintatmosphericmoody,theEVEN pineap-andpaneertandoorior8,cakes, FOOD&DRINK index.html2.html3.html4.html5.html6.html7.html8.html9.html10.html11.html12.html13.html14.html15.html16.html17.html18.html19.html20.html21.html22.html23.html24.html25.html26.html27.html28.html29.html30.html31.html32.html33.html34.html35.html36.html37.html38.html39.html40.html41.html42.html43.html44.html45.html46.html47.html48.html49.html50.html51.html