When Joseph Merkling opened for business in the restaurant space overlooking the Homestead golf course in May 2013, he offered both a fine-dining, higher-priced steakhouse and a bistro for simpler meals.
As he saw it, the $49 filet mignon that topped the menu on the fine-dining side was a bargain — the same steak would probably cost more than $100 in Seattle. But Lynden isn’t Seattle, and Merkling quickly scaled back to the bistro format that is proving successful today.
Once people come, they’re very happily surprised. The place is gorgeous.
Joseph Merkling, owner, executive chef
“They are rather frugal out there,” he says.
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About 80 percent of his customers at Steakhouse9 Bistro & Lounge are from in and around Lynden, but Merkling hopes more Bellingham residents and Canadian visitors will make the trip to his restaurant in the months ahead.
“It’s a fun, friendly, lively atmosphere,” he says. “Once people come, they’re very happily surprised. The place is gorgeous.”
Like many other local restaurateurs, Merkling believes the key to success in Whatcom County is to create a menu and atmosphere that attracts dress-up, special-occasion diners without making the shorts-and-T-shirt customer feel unwelcome.
His current menu still features some steak options that would be in the splurge range for most locals, with filet mignons in $28 or $34 portions, a $36 New York or rib-eye, and a $26 sirloin. The steaks are seared on a state-of-the-art, 1,800-degree chophouse grill-broiler.
It’s one of the best French dips I’ve ever had.
Sandwiches range from $12 to $19, with the French dip on the high end of the spectrum. It features thinly sliced prime rib with caramelized onions and Swiss cheese on a house-baked roll with au jus and house-ground fresh horseradish sauce.
“It’s one of the best French dips I’ve ever had,” Merkling says.
Also featured are four burger options, for $11 to $17. The high-end choices feature Kobe beef.
The $14 “9 Burger” is prepared with bacon, Gorgonzola and Kobe beef combined into one patty that’s seared until caramelized and served on a brioche bun with sauce, lettuce, tomato and caramelized onions There are also four pizza varieties and six salads.
The appetizer menu provides some items that might appeal to the sophisticated palate, such as chicken cilantro pesto quesadilla, orange Grand Marnier shrimp, and seared tuna sushi roll.
Steakhouse9 Bistro & Lounge
Address: 115 E. Homestead Blvd. suite A, Lynden