There’s a reason you’re supposed to ‘remember remember the 5th of November’… and it’s not just because of gunpowder treason. It’s also my birthday. One I happily share with Art Garfunkel, Vivien Leigh, a Jonas brother and Tilda Swinton.

To celebrate in years past there have been some remarkable meals out, beautiful cook books wrapped in coloured paper and early morning deliveries of a mug of tea, courtesy of The Hungry One. One year my earl grey with a splash of milk and half a sugar came with a special voucher which enabled its bearer to 100 more. In the 364 days that followed I claimed every one, with glee.

When I was much younger I remember swimming parties and cakes carefully chosen from flour scabbed pages of the Women’s Weekly birthday cake book. To mark my 13th there was a special delivery to the school office of 13 cream roses from my Dad.

Some years things weren’t so rosy. Three days before my 11th birthday my adored grandfather passed away- yet the family carefully constructed the week so the funeral didn’t fall on my special day. At my belated 18th celebrations the invited boys stole the cases of beer, smuggling them down the back path to lubricate another party. This year we’re a little distracted as well.

Yet The Hungry One was determined that we would mark the occasion with niceties. And so we did.

There was a morning trip past Sonoma for some soaked muesli and a large weak skim latte. Yet another example of needing more milk, less caffeine first thing in the morning.

On the day some exceptionally kind friends had a dozen pink roses delivered to work. There were presents of the new David Thompson Thai Street Food and Jamie’s America. There were chocolates from Sweet William from coworkers and the delightful distraction of afterwork drinks rolling into dinner at an old favourite.

The Hungry One generously made many offers of ‘impressive food with a view’ locations for a birthday dinner. I then turned these down, one by one – like felling expensive monuments. I think we’ve had enough big nights out this year…

And besides, it’s just so hard to go past Vini.

Vini is a hole in the wall kind of place on Holt Street in Surry Hills, though the address says Devonshire.

It’s moody and sexy, yet the disposition of the staff is markedly sunny. Carafes of Italian wines, daily crostini, pastas, a couple of side salads and mains which showcase quality pieces of protein are what you come for.

And it’s conveniently just around the corner from my day job.

Had a bad meeting? How about a cheeky glass of something and a $18 bowl of pasta for lunch to perk you up.

Had a crazy day? How about you sidle in at 5.15pm with a couple of your frustrated compatriots and make your way through a carafe of house pinot grigio for $20, with some complimentary olives, grissini and a smile.

Had a performance review that you didn’t make you dance? Run away for a lovingly wobbly ricotta panna cotta, with espresso caramel and crunchy almonds. Feel soothed by it. Feel even more so when you see over near the blackboard the backs of two of your superiors recovering from similar experiences- with a bottle of barolo.

Vini’s menu is small and seasonal, written up in chalk and I’ve never once been and not found something to adore.

On the evening of my birthday it was crostini with livers and crispy sage, a rotolo wrapping zucchini and prawns as neatly as a hospital cornered bed, a salad of fennel rocket and parmesan and one of their famed panna cottas, with a birthday candle propped on the top.

A piece of chocolate spiced panforte, a ristretto, the company of good friends and it was a perfect evening.

Sure it’s busy and you can’t make bookings. Sure it can be noisy and if you’ve been in there since 5.15 they’ll probably want the table back by 8pm.

But I’m getting old and there are plenty of other things on our plates.

A full belly, a birthday candle and an early night.

A girl couldn’t ask for much more- even on her birthday.

Vini
Tel: 9698 5131
3/118 Devonshire St (On Holt), Surry Hills, NSW