The West Side Market of Cleveland, OH /wikimedia

Strawberry, egg white, mozzarella, olive, and sunflower seed salad after class? Half a pound of brie at 3 am? Crispy flatbreads for all occasions? It could only be Westside, friend of the munchies late night snackers and fruit fiends alike. Akin to our Getting to Know series, each week, Bwog will give you a chance to view Westside market from the other side of the counter, as seen by its dedicated, forgiving and really just friendly 24/7 staff. For our first installment–The Hot Bar, as investigated by Ricky Raudales.

If there’s anything Westside’s deli is good at, besides obstructing your dash to the prepackaged bagel section, it’s serving up a steamy plate of, well, meat! And, for all the other 24-hour delis that Morningside Heights doesn’t have, it makes a great alternative to the late-night meal a la vending machine.

For this episode of Weekly Westside, Bwog traveled behind the hot food bar to find Westside personality Saoul, serving up your customized combo of the popular lunch and dinner special: “1 meat, 2 sides.” Still, the tasty food special can’t be the only factor in our love affair with Westside since each getaway results in a Flex reduction of $8.99.

That’s why Saoul is there. While this loyal employee won’t give out the secret ingredient in that delicious gravy, he is well known for doling out heaping sample sizes for hungry students and his enjoyment in sharing movie reviews with fellow film connoisseurs. Although Saoul does share samples and opinions of popular culture, he does not share the popular tastes of Columbia students. While students go wild over the glazed salmon and roasted turkey, he was somewhat reluctant to admit that his favorite dish was far from a lean meat.  He goes for the Kobe pastrami.

Despite our differences, Saoul says he can’t imagine students having poor tastes or strange preferences at the hot bar since “everything is very good.”

For vegetarians, Saoul suggests the avocado salad. Yet, when pushed to weigh in on how the avocado option fares in comparison to the mango arugula blend, this devoted employee will tell you again that “both are good choices,” but not before asking if you’d like to another taste just to make sure.

So while Saoul didn’t provide the answers to all of life’s questions (like, “How many people actually fit in an aisle at Westside?”) he did give us hope for finding a worthy meal at an ungodly hour. Take note ‘ye brave souls willing to pass on a slice of pizza next door— Saoul is waiting with far better fare.