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Starters: First look at three different 'Stooges' in Lockport

Stooges Stuffed Burger Bar is a fresh addition to Lockport’s slowly expanding dining scene. Serving up a familiar menu of homespun pub fare All Stars with trademark twists, the menu is anchored by their namesake “Stooges.”

A take on the Minneapolis staple “Juicy Lucy,” these stuffed burgers come with a variety of signature stylings as well as a “make your own” option, rendering the combinations virtually limitless. Besides beef-based versions, there's chicken and sausage Stooges, as well as vegetarian and vegan options.

Operating out of the front half of  historic Old City Hall, Stooges joins Flight of Five Winery. The rustic and warm dining room is a cozy spot in the winter and will likely attract tourists during summer with its picturesque view of Erie Canal Locks 34 & 35.

Snacking on complimentary pretzel sticks, I noticed a “krazy” option listed next to a few items for a small upcharge. These are unusual ingredient mix-ins that rotate weekly to keep a fresh spin on the menu.

Deviled eggs, left, and mac and cheese balls from Stooges in Lockport. (Phil Wagner/Special to The News)

I went “krazy” for both the deviled eggs ($7) and mac and cheese balls ($8), which this week meant the addition of red bell pepper and gouda cheese. Though a welcome add on both circumstances, the deep-fried mac and cheese balls proved a better setting, as they would have risked falling into the realm of “routine” without it.

Fried pickles ($5) are an item I always order, and Stooges is serving up one of my favorite renditions to date. I prefer spears over chips but I never thought of the lengthwise slice as an option. Served fresh from the fryer alongside Thousand-Island type sauce, the light batter let the briny bite of the pickle ring strongest, as it should. I’ll be back if only for these and a beer.

Fried pickles lightly battered and cut lengthwise are an uncommon spin on a longtime favorite. (Phil Wagner/Special to The News)

The Stooges, stuffed burgers, are the star of the show here. I ran the gantlet, ordering  each of their meat varieties on either ciabatta or brioche, and the results were varied but overall delicious.

At $12-13 each, they come served with a pickle and your choice of regular, waffle cut sweet potato, carrot, or parsnip fries. I sampled them all, and they are all deserving of an order if they meet your particular persuasion.

Da MIKE Italian Stallion - essentially an inside-out stuffed banana pepper - is a popular Stooges burger in Lockport. (Phil Wagner/Special to The News)

Da “MIKE” aka Italian Stallion was the overall winner for favorite Stooge of the night. A self-described “inside-out stuffed banana pepper,” locally made Scapelliti’s sausage surrounds a molten pepper and cheese interior that packs all the familiar flavors of the dish.

The “BUFFALO” Double Boom Boom is another inside-out rendition of Western New York staple grub. Stuffed with bits of fresh carrot, celery, blue cheese and hot sauce, the chicken was a moist-yet-crispy wrapping for the spicy interior that hit all the key notes of your favorite wing joint in a hand-held punch.

My "Make your own Stooge" intact (Phil Wagner/Special to The News)

Taking a go at the art of burger interior design, I made my own Stooge burger stuffed with a safe combo of pickles, mushrooms and Swiss cheese on brioche (featured "cross-section" image at the top of the article).

Cheese-stuffed options seem to fair the best overall (as you might imagine) as the Swiss in this rendition provided the visual and textural appeal that truly sets these sandwiches apart from run-of-the-mill options.

Stooges fully renovated interior at 2 Pine St in Lockport (Phil Wagner/Special to The News)

For the burger-wary, Stooges also offers a compelling selection of homemade soups and chopped salads that are far from mere additions for “profiling purposes."

From Kale Quinoa Blueberry and Feta in the Queen “B” ($11) to their take on the Cobb with the “TR”, the menu provides a balance to satisfy the whole family, including a 10 and under “Lil’ Stooges” menu of scaled-down Stooge sliders.

A complementary addition to one of our region’s best-known historic landmarks, Stooges is a spot well deserving of a trip to Lockport for an atypical experience with some quintessential WNY classics.

INFO: Stooges, 2 Pine St., Lockport. Phone: 434-1100. Hours: 11 a.m.- 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday. 11 a.m -10 p.m. Friday & Saturday. Closed Sunday.

Stooges resides in the front half of Old City Hall in Lockport. A shared space with the Flight of Five Winery overlooking Locks 34 & 35 on the Erie Canal (Phil Wagner/Special to The News)

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