My friend Cindy came into town for a class at UCLA and the only time we had to get together for a meal was at 4pm. The only place I found open at the "lunner" hour between lunch and dinner was at the Backyard at the W Hotel.
Parking at the free Broxton garage (no charge for the first 2 hours before 6:01pm) a few blocks away was a breeze, and the five block walk on a nice July day was the perfect start to a nice afternoon with a friend.
The entrance to the restaurant winds up a hill by the pool area to the right of the main entrance to the hotel, so you get a nice open air preview of the atmosphere. With private cabanas around the back of the pool, couches and tables are set for the restaurant on the opposite end with choices of sun or shade; we opted for shade because it was a warm day.
There are several menus, lunch, brunch, afternoon, and dinner, with some items appearing on all three as appetizers. Since we were not very hungry, the afternoon menu was perfect. Cindy chose the crispy lump crab cakes served with a spicy mango sauce and scallion mojo; I chose the spicy tuna tartare with gingered cucumbers, lotus root chips, avocado, and sesame edamame. Everything was beautifully presented; the crab cakes were four miniature disks topped with a nice dollop of the spicy mango sauce and my tuna tartare came in a perfect tower of avocado, tuna, edamame, and cucumber.
Because we ate so lightly, we had room for dessert, so we chose the strawberry shortcake on the advice of our very pleasant waiter. It was made with a soft shortcake, dusted with confectioner's sugar, a nice lemon curd, candied blueberries, and strawberries, a nice not too sweet finish to a beautiful afternoon.
If she didn't have a class to go to and if I had not taken allergy medication, we might have opted for one of their dessert drinks, like an iced angel coffee or a chocolate martini, but those are best when you have a room upstairs at the hotel or a pool cabana to sleep in afterwards:)