The property at 363 Fore Street in Portland has seen many incarnations over the years– a Dunkin’ Donuts, an Orange Leaf frozen yogurt shop, a short-lived sandwich spot called Pockets… We watched with hesitant curiosity as plain brown paper covered the windows of the vacant space and a sign indicated that Thai cuisine would be coming soon. Months later, Cheevitdee finally arrived. Spoiler alert: it was worth the wait.
The first thing we noticed was the renovated space itself, which was hip, bright, and open. They didn’t have the biggest menu in terms of selections, but everything looked tempting. We took a shotgun approach and ordered all sorts of appetizers, drinks, and entrees– many of which were vegetarian and/or gluten-free.
As our food arrived, the next thing we noticed were the colors. So many colors! Purple rice, yellow cauliflower, and the brilliant blue-violet of the Butterfly Pea Iced Tea (more on that one later). The wait staff was also very friendly, accommodating, and attentive, and they did a good job of getting our dishes out to us in a timely fashion.
The appetizers were all solid, from beautiful and delicious fresh rolls to shrimp shumai dumplings, grilled chicken meatballs with chili tamarind sauce, and steamed mussels which had a uniquely Thai flavor of lemongrass and galangal.
The main dishes were gorgeous, almost too beautiful to eat. The striking colors and portions made our mouths water. The Pad Pak steamed vegetables were bountiful and tasty, and the Khao Mun Gai steamed chicken featured a huge amount of poultry on the plate. The Yum Salmon salad with chili, lime, onion, and garlic was also definitely highlight. My Khao Pad Tom Yum, or basil fried rice, had the flavors one would normally associate with Tom Yum soup– chili paste, mushrooms, small tomatoes– and a generous helping of very large shrimp, not the tiny one or two token crustaceans you usually have to hunt for at other restaurants. The dish might just be my new favorite fried rice variant in town.
Cheevitdee has a beer and wine menu that is as long as the food one, with a nice selection of flavors. The beverage highlight, however, was the Butterfly Pea Iced Tea. Served in a simple glass with a wedge of lime, the blueish purple color is something to behold. The hue apparently comes from the flowers of the butterfly pea vine, also known as Asian pigeonwings and by Clitoria ternatea, its Latin name. Originally blue when brewed, it takes on a more violet tint as acidic ingredients such as citrus are added. It had a creamy taste not unlike Thai iced tea, but it also had a syrupy, honey sweetness to it. So obsessed were we with this concoction that Page One’s very own Chris reverse-engineered it for us all so try back at the office the next week. The fruits of his labors can be found over on the Recipes section of this site.
This is definitely one eatery we will be visiting again, and soon!