Cee Fine Thai Dining. Auspicious name! I'm not certain what's behind the Asian trend of glamourizing restaurant names in America, but I could ask a hundred people and get a hundred answers, so it'll wait for another day.
The basics of where it's located- Cee is located on route 29 in Fairfax, Virginia. The mappable address is 9901 Fairfax Boulevard in Fairfax. If you're interested in a closer look at their menu and such, their website can be found at http://www.ceefinethaidining.com .
The decor is tasteful, in deep russet colors with gold and black accents. The dining room is spacious, with seating that's nicely balanced- plenty of room for high numbers without seeming crowded. I've never seen it full, but I've also never walked in and found it empty. Having dropped in for a late supper a half hour before they close to see five full tables happily enjoying their supper counts for a lot! That business becomes important for a variety of reasons- most notably the service.
Somewhat worse in execution than many Asian restaurants I've been to, the service is... spotty. They've almost never been properly staffed, with either too much or too little manpower for the amount of business they do (brisk yes, but perhaps it's sporatic as well), and they'll take their time to get what you need. The staff here might take the concept of leisurely dining a bit too far.
While I often take good and proper advantage of dining out as an escape from the day's troubles, and relish the time I spend eating, drinking, and socializing with my friends, there are some service basics that shouldn't be left out of the equation. Drinks continuously. Knowledgeable answers to simple questions. You know, basics.
I should also mention that while the prices are low and reasonable, the portion sizes do match. On one of my solo excursions here, I polished off two appetizer, my entree, and a dessert. But in truth, that's not a bad thing at all!
To an adventurous diner, that's extremely appealing, since it subtly creates a mentality of 'why not try just one more thing?'. That mindset serves very well to improve the diner's experience *without* relying on the servers to up-sell or make suggestions. Another dish tried on impulse might become a favorite worth returning for again. If not, perhaps something else next time- because now they want a next time.
As to the food, on the whole I've found it quite tasty. Thai food is among my favorite types of Southeast Asian cuisine, since they never shy away from intensity- be it through heat, tartness, savor, or depth. If you want it spicy, don't be afraid to say so- even emphatically. If it arrives less than you'd like, there'll be a small tray of condiments with plenty of what you need to bolster the burning to wherever you might want it.
For the appetizers, a real winner was their Fried Sun-Dried Beef, which gave the intense flavor and appealing crunch of jerky without the troublesome gnawing. Likewise, I could eat their Thai-Style Sausage for hours. The various incarnations of Larb are also delicious, packing plenty of potent flavor in something so simple.
The entrees are numerous, at least at first glance. The duplicate items are easy to spot- where the item numbers and proteins change, but the sauces and descriptions stay the same. It's most noticeable in the curries, but it's fairly evenly spread throughout. The menu could shrink if it took those preparations and added a "chicken/beef/pork/shrimp/tofu" annotation, but I can see why they don't. That simplification cheapens the look of the restaurant as a whole, and any locale with the phrase "fine dining" in their very name won't let that happen if they can avoid it, and rightly so.
It's easy enough to find passable "Thai" food in this area. It's a fair bit more difficult to find the real stuff. This isn't bad, and I'll say it's definitely worth a visit or two. Don't let the sometimes sloppy service sour you.
Lastly, if you don't find Cee to your liking, go across the street! Cho's Garden is on the opposite side, and very much worth going a distance for. A review of that will also be forthcoming, so keep an eye out!