As 2009 prepares to hang the "closed" sign on its 365-day notched door and 2010 gets ready to open up shop, I thought it was an appropriate time to take a mini-inventory of some of last year's more prominent restaurant openings and closings. What follows is not an exhaustive list, but it did make me feel exhausted just looking over all the terrific new food I tried and all the old friends I'll surely miss.

As 2009 prepares to hang the "closed" sign on its 365-day notched door and 2010 gets ready to open up shop, I thought it was an appropriate time to take a mini-inventory of some of last year's more prominent restaurant openings and closings. What follows is not an exhaustive list, but it did make me feel exhausted just looking over all the terrific new food I tried and all the old friends I'll surely miss.

Gone but not forgotten

Handke's Cuisine: The shadow cast by Hartmut Handke cannot be overstated - this certified master chef is the most decorated cook ever to tend pots in Columbus. Not only did the Austrian native represent the USA in Lyon, France, at the Bocuse d'Or Olympics-style competition, but he even won the award for best meat platter there and in 2003 was named the Bocuse d'Or's sixth best overall chef.

Alas, after he departed the restaurant that still bore his name (and helped put Columbus on the culinary map), Handke's unique German Village eatery - where he earlier pioneered local daily market shopping and specialized in Old World classics like oxtail and actually-worth-ordering creme brulee - could not survive. It is no exaggeration to call this the end of an era.

Rosendales: Like Handke, Richard Rosendale was a nationally celebrated chef who came here from the famous Greenbriar Resort. Unlike Handke, Rosendale's bright kitchen flame blazed in Columbus for only a short while. I'll really miss Rosendales' beautiful, top-cheffy food - especially his Upstairs tasting menu extravaganzas - as well as the cocktails and whimsically fun MiniBar multi-course meals at Details, Rosendales' joined-at-the-hip restaurant and lounge, now also closed.

Morton's the Steakhouse: Sure it was an anachronism - an old-school red-meat and dark-wood chain based out of Chicago - but this place really understood hospitality and pampering. And Morton's boozy-themed parties were an absolute riot of fun.

Thom's on Grandview: It's hard to say why this Grandview Avenue upscale seafooder - run and owned by the Clarmont boss - lost its steam. Maybe it's because Thom's failed to attract a young-enough crowd. It certainly wasn't because of Thom's excellent food, great wine prices or terrific happy hour deals.

Maca Cafe: I always had a good time at this cozy, friendly and family-run Spanish tapas place. Unfortunately too many people must've been like me - unwilling or unable to trek way the heck out to Powell often enough.

My new best friends

Barrio: This bright new Downtown star manages to feel hip but not exclusive while serving food that's creative (quinoa salad with microgreens), beautiful (skewered ancho swordfish) and soulfully satisfying (fantastic garlicky fries).

Skillet: When I first bit into the profoundly juicy and delicious Porchetta and Short Rib sandwiches here, I was so stunned with delight that I probably looked like I'd been hit with a skillet. This tiny, stylish and smart father-and-son-run Merion Village spot sells earthy but artsy (often sourced) food at more than fair prices.

Lavash: Whether ordering from the everyday menu (terrific tabouli, hummus and kabob sandwiches) or from Lavash's list of rotating specials (remarkable whole fried red snapper, soups and luscious lamb dishes), you'll be eating Middle Eastern food as good as any in this city.

Third & Hollywood: The Northstar Cafe's pricier and more ambitious sibling uses seriously fresh and high-grade ingredients to breathe life into classic American-style cuisine (meatloaf, burgers, fried chicken).

Dirty Frank's: It finally opened! Yet another fun-tastic Liz Lessner restaurant, this one specializes in fancifully dressed $3 hot dogs (love the Whoa Nellie topped with beef brisket - don't gasp, just try it), '80s rock tributes, baseball and alcohol-spiked slushie drinks. What more could you want?

Risen or rising from the ashes

Bono Pizza: After creating a genuine Italian-style pizza sensation in 2008 then quickly fading, Bono is back again (now in Grandview) baking great handmade wood-oven pizzas.

La Tavola: This once-terrific Italian place moved to a bigger location then sadly closed down. Now its talented owner/chef plans to reopen as Knead in the Short North.

Nancy's: This historic Columbus cheapie homestyler was tragically shuttered last year after decades of feeding its neighbors; currently it's working hard to reopen after a slight up-to-date makeover.