Ryan’s good friend Jim is moving to Los Angeles tomorrow. Having lived here already for the past ten years, Ryan thought it would be a good idea to show Jim around. Ryan picks Jim up from LAX at 9pm and knowing that Jim will be hungry, Ryan pulled some strings and got them a reservation and one of LA’s hottest new restaurants, Access.
Jim arrives and gets in Ryan’s car and immediately begins detailing his excitement to finally be in Los Angeles, ready to lay out in the famous beaches, walk along palm-tree ridden streets and of course go visit Access. Ryan, a long-time resident, remains silent for now. Jim tells Ryan about his flight and starts asking questions about LA, interrupted occasionally by Ryan’s car hitting potholes on the drive. Jim is surprised how clear a night it is, because he swore he saw some cloud cover on the descent into LAX. Ryan explains that was actually smog, not clouds. “Oh,” Jim retorts.
After a 45 minute drive to go 6 miles, which Jim now learns is typical even though it was 9pm on a Wednesday night, they get to Access and valet their car for $8. Once inside they are shown their table. The restaurant has a nice decor, set to the perfect temperature. Jim is very excited as he’s heard about Access from friends, the news and even some TV shows. In fact, Access is always portrayed in the media for having Boxgap Steak, a rather scarce but overly desired steak not only in California, but the world. This steak is special. It is generally very lean, but has some fat in all the right places. It is tender, very moist and of course tastes like only something one can dream of. It’s sourced from young cows between the ages of 18-24 months, as the 18 month mark is when California legally allows their slaughter. After 24 months, the steak starts to spoil and isn’t as good as it used to be. Although Boxgap Steak comes from cows that are raised all over the US and sometimes even internationally, it somehow always finds its way to LA soon enough.
The waiter comes by and before even asking for their food order, Jim blurts out that he can’t wait to try the Boxgap Steak. The waiter makes a confused face and asks Jim if this is his first time here. Ryan asks the waiter for a minute and turns to Jim and lets him know that unfortunately, he can’t have the Boxgap Steak.
Ryan: Well, even though Access is famous for the Boxgap Steak, not everyone can have it. Only certain people can have it.
Jim: What are you talking about? Look at that table by the kitchen – every person there has a Boxgap Steak! How’s that possible?
That of course was the prime table at Access, the one by the kitchen where everyone gets Boxgap Steak. In fact, what Ryan and most LA residents know is that it is quite an illusion that anyone can come to LA and be eating Boxgap Steak right away. Ryan told Jim to look around, nobody has the Boxgap Steak absent that one table. So Jim asks why that table. Ryan explains:
Well, you see that older guy? That’s Don, he owns Access so of course he gets to have it.
That guy next to him is the promoter for Access, Dylan. He goes out and finds people to come to the restaurant, promising them the opportunity for Boxgap Steak. He also is the one that sources the Boxgap Steak from the farms, so he gets to have it too.
Next to him is some actor on TV. He’s famous so he gets to have Boxgap Steak too.
Jim sees the man next to the actor, some ugly Persian guy with gold chains on and who is quite loud and obnoxious. Jim wondered why he got to have some.
I see you looking at the Persian guy. He is insanely rich and pays $1,000 to have a seat at that table, so he can eat Boxgap Steak. Dylan found him. Ridiculous, I know, but to him money means nothing and that type of wealth gets you that type of steak.
Then there’s the chef Alan, he takes bits from the Boxgap Steak here and there when available.
Billy is next to him, he works in the restaurant business. Because he’s in the industry, he gets to have some Boxgap Steak too.
Then there’s Sergio. He’s 6’5, 220lbs and ripped to shreds, and looks like a male model. He doesn’t know himself how he got to sit at that table—he was just invited.
And the last seat is Calvin, he has the best kosher salt in all of LA. He often hosts parties in his house in the Hollywood Hills, where he has an array of spices for the Boxgap Steaks. You should see how fast those steaks absorp the kosher salt, it’s amazing. So because of his varied spices, and especially the kosher salt, he gets to have it too.
This was getting to be too much for Jim. He had grown up reading about and seeing all these stories about Boxgap Steaks and now he was finding out he couldn’t have it? The waiter brought over the steaks to that table one by one, and Jim just stared luringly. The steaks were perfect. They glowed with a light only found on meat aged as indicated above. They smelled amazing, their aromas hitting Jim’s olfactory senses as they were carried past him. They were very juicy and tender, glistening with what was likely some delicious butter. It was quite honestly one of the best looking and well put together steaks Jim has seen — certainly he never saw this type of steak where he’s from.
Of course those sitting at the table by the kitchen didn’t seem to value the Boxgap Steak as much as Jim did. They were laughing, eating their steaks callously, and he even saw the Persian guy fingering his steak. The gall on that man, Jim thought, fingering that Boxgap Steak in public. As Ryan explained however, they are used to the Boxgap Steaks. They can have them on whim, and some of them don’t even pay for it. It’s just because of who they are, who they know or what they can provide that they get it.
The waiter comes back and Ryan orders ground chuck hamburgers for both of them. “So that’s what we get? Ground Chuck?” Jim exclaimed. Jim’s anger was seeping out. Both him and Ryan were bright guys, spoke several languages, had good careers and were good-looking. He should not be limited to ground chuck. Ryan responded that while it is no Boxgap Steak, it’s decent and gets the job done.
After eating, Jim stated that it was maybe a 6.5/10. Ryan agreed, and let Jim know it hovers in the 6-7 range, with maybe once in a while the ground chuck hitting an 8. The bill came and Jim was again shocked. “It’s that expensive for some ground chuck?!?” Ryan explained that because of the market in LA, where only a select few get the Boxgap Steak and everyone else is left to fight for the ground chuck, it artificially inflates the price. “Don’t feel too bad though,” said Ryan. “Look outside, see that guy eating out of the trash? If I didn’t take care of myself and improve myself to where I’m at now, I wouldn’t even get ground chuck. I’d be that guy.”
On the drive home Jim asked Ryan if he’s ever had Boxgap Steak. A few times, Ryan explained. “Here it’s mostly luck.” The first time was when he found a Boxgap Steak that had just arrived at the supermarket, before Access or the other restaurants found out about it and swooped it up. “Sometimes” Ryan explained, “if you find some Boxgap Steak right when it arrives in LA, you can get to it. After about 30 days though, like clockwork they are poached by the big restaurants here and you can’t get to them anymore.”
Ryan went on to explain that Boxgap Steak was much more regularly available outside LA, in places like New York and Miami. This jogged Jim’s memory and he inquired of Ryan if what they say about the steaks in Europe is true. Since Ryan recently traveled to Europe, he confirmed Jim’s suspicion. “Especially in Eastern Europe. There’s a lot of Boxgap Steak there that is way more accessible.” Ryan explained that it’s not impossible to get Boxgap Steak here, but you just have to be in the right type of industry, have unparalleled wealth or fame, and so on. Jim was discouraged.
They arrived back at Ryan’s home and Jim was not tired yet. He asked Ryan if he would like to go out and have a drink. Ryan has to break Jim’s heart again, telling him that “Unfortunately, it’s already 1:00 a.m. and the bars all close in 30 minutes, so there is nowhere to go.” Jim then goes to bed, starting to wonder what Ryan already knows, that LA may not be as wonderful as it seemed.
Over the next few years, the real LA showed itself to Jim and started to wear on him. There is traffic all the time. Despite having great weather, Jim started to miss the seasons. The lack of mass transit made it difficult to have fun nights out, always requiring a designated driver or the risk of a DUI. He grew tired of the ground chuck, and always lacking the ability to have the Boxgap Steak despite seeing it on a daily basis and being tortured with its sight and smell. He paid high taxes, the state had many unnecessary laws and housing was overpriced.
Eventually, Jim broke and left LA for greener pastures, like many before him. On his way through security at LAX, another fellow named Chad walked past Jim to start his new life in LA, like many before him. Chad arrives and gets in his friend Alan’s car and immediately begins detailing his excitement to finally be in Los Angeles, ready to lay out in the famous beaches, walk along palm-tree ridden streets and of course… visit Access.
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