This time last year, the future looked awfully grim. We braced for restaurant closures and recessionary menus, but 2009 was surprising. Though we lost some good places (Perigee, Truffles, Alice’s and Gamelle, in particular), and mac-and-cheese quickly wore out its welcome, it was an exciting time to dine out. Anxious restaurateurs dropped corkage fees and slashed wine markups, while chefs cooked up imaginative prix fixe menus. It suited our mood as well as our wallets: these days, Torontonians want informality. We’re still hungry for local produce and nose-to-tail dining, chefs are once again finding inspiration in Italy and Japan, and the city is finally beginning to develop a serious cocktail culture. Most encouraging of all is the number of new restaurants opening. Here, the best of the vintage.