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Bar review: ¡Cuatro, the 19th hole at TPC Tampa Bay

The 19th hole. Despite the importance that the nickname would suggest, many golf course clubhouse bars and restaurants are strictly utilitarian — bland, bare-boned affairs that rarely ascend beyond burgers and beer, the occasional Bloody Mary. This is the case at even many of the nicer courses.

TPC Tampa Bay is undoubtedly one of the "nicer" courses. Renowned course designer Bobby Weed and PGA pro Chi Chi Rodriguez designed the course 25 years ago. TPC Tampa Bay has been host to annual PGA events and is easily one of the best area courses open to the public.

The restaurant and bar? It has undergone a few changes over the years, but the latest remodel and rebrand brings TPC Tampa Bay up to a level that few are playing on: premium golf courses with 19th holes worth looking forward to.

The name ¡Cuatro was purportedly inspired by shouts of "fore!" on the golf course, but it's also a reference to the four culinary styles that have inspired ¡Cuatro chefs Michael Toscano and Wes Morton: Mexican, Italian, Cajun and American home cooking. A chef-driven clubhouse restaurant, you say?

The ambience is also a departure from the average clubhouse bar. ¡Cuatro is situated just off the 18th hole, opposite the pro shop. Inside, you might think you're at any sleek, modern eatery, save for the panoramic views overlooking the lush greenery of the TPC Tampa Bay course. There's some chill music playing at a low volume, and abstract oil paintings on the wall.

You can order a full (and even somewhat fancy) meal, watch PGA Tour golf and other sports on a few flat screens positioned around the bar and dining area, and drink from a wide selection of beers, wines, cocktails and fine spirits. The whisky selection at ¡Cuatro alone — featuring Macallan 18, Old Forester 1870 and 1897 and Michter's bourbon and American whiskey, among others — may be among the best in Lutz.

Speaking of Lutz, this is a city that could use some good watering holes. The fact that ¡Cuatro is open to the public and not just members or golfers stopping in after a round makes it a very fine choice for Lutz-based drinkers, even if it does close early in comparison to a non-golf course bar.

You'll find six beers on tap and more in cans and bottles. Naturally, ¡Cuatro stocks the GolfBeer line from Brew Hub, which I highly recommend if you're cooling down after a round of golf. (I really like those beers.) The wine list offers more than two dozen options, most of which are available by the glass. A signature cocktail list is forthcoming, but for now, ¡Cuatro always has a featured cocktail of the day, which is priced at a very fair $6 during happy hour.

Once a month on a Friday, ¡Cuatro features select brews from a rotating cast of local breweries, with reps in attendance to help spread the word about their beers. Big Storm's coming up next (Aug. 12), followed by Cigar City (Sept. 16). Every weekend features live music and games on the patio — cornhole and basketball. This is a cool feature for a bar in an area that's not in full-on beer boom mode yet.

It's clear that ¡Cuatro aims to not only be a top-quality 19th hole, but a top-quality neighborhood bar and restaurant as well. There are a lot of people that live in the residential areas surrounding TPC Tampa Bay and a disproportionately small number of good places to drink and eat. I think ¡Cuatro's got the right idea.

jg@saintbeat.com; @WordsWithJG.

¡Cuatro

5300 W Lutz Lake Fern Road, #4, Lutz; (813) 949-1486; cuatrotampa.com

The vibe: A modern, polished golf course bar and restaurant at TPC Tampa Bay. Open to the public.

Food: Starters, soups, salads and sandwiches, $4 to $18; entrees, $14 to $25.

Booze: Beer, wine and liquor. Beer, $3.50 to $5.25; wine, $7 to $15 by the glass and $22 to $195 by the bottle; liquor, $6 to $9, although some high-end whiskies can go up to $24. Happy hour is 4 to 7 p.m. daily, featuring $1 off all draft beers and wines by the glass, as well as a $6 cocktail of the day.

Specialty: A house cocktail list is expected by the end of the month. For now, ask about the cocktail special of the day, which could be anything from a subtly sweetened version of the Moscow Mule to the Cactus Hat Margarita, which features house-infused tequila and is garnished with a triple sec-soaked pineapple wedge. If you're going for beer, try one of the three GolfBeers, brewed by Lakeland's Brew Hub. These three sessionable brews created in partnership with pro golfers Freddie Jacobson, Keegan Bradley and Graeme McDowell, are perfect for sipping on a patio overlooking the course on a hot day (Freddie's Scandinavian Blonde is my favorite).

Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday; 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.

Bar review: ¡Cuatro, the 19th hole at TPC Tampa Bay 07/12/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 12, 2016 8:13pm]
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