Com Vietnamese Grill in Dunwoody: Our Waiter Confronted Us After the Meal

My friend Bryant and I went to a Vietnamese grill in Dunwoody the other day. The restaurant was difficult to find, hidden in one of the corners of a huge shopping center. Not a smart location move on Com’s part.

We walked into the grill at 6PM on a Wednesday evening and the place was nearly empty. However, over the course of two hours or so it filled up a bit, with young Caucasians.

Let’s see. Com is a Vietnamese restaurant with French influences, and a bar counter. However, the decor of the place has convinced me that the restaurant is suffering from a long-term identity crisis. In a dimly lit dining area, why would you choose such a light shade of wood for your tables and chairs?

But then I realized it’s all the actual food itself.

Our waiter was very warm; we asked him what he recommended and he told us about two dishes that were not even close to the most expensive on the menu. He even offered to teach us how to roll the wraps we ordered.

photo 1 (8)
Goi cuon – 2 medium-sized spring rolls for $4.25 that we ordered with lamb. The rice paper had that delightfully sticky texture, each bite had a different crunch aspect, as a result of the fresh greens, chopped peanuts, and crispy onions!
photo 3 (6)
Banh Hoi – A DIY dish, where you get a cool contraption that holds rice paper and hot water so you can dip it and make the paper pliable. Then you stuff it with whatever you’d like. The picture depicts the flat rice noodles that we ordered topped with the beef, which was chopped into small pieces and cooked until crispy and flavorful, with tangy rice vinegar sauce for dipping. $11.25
photo 4 (5)
The greens that came with our vermicelli wraps: lettuce, papaya, pickled daikon, carrots, mint, Thai basil, cilantro, and papaya. They gave the wraps a fresh, cruncy, vibrant, and colorful element, despite its status as a mere filler.
photo 2 (10)
Banh Xeo – A Vietnamese crepe!! So crispy and delicious. Bryant came up with the idea to break it up and put it in our vermicelli wraps; best. idea. ever. It came with carrot-spaghetti, piled high with green onions and chopped jumbo shrimp and that classic rice wine vinegar sauce. This dish ($10.50) also came with a plate of the same vegetables (filler) depicted above; I guess Com is looking to promote a fresh, veggie approach to French-inspired Vietnamese food.

You don’t have to order the most expensive items on the menu to have a great meal; due to their large portion sizes, I was very full and satisfied afterwards, though we didn’t have any leftovers.

You’ll enjoy this place if you’re searching for relatively inexpensive but really flavorful, fresh Viet food in the Dunwoody area.

As for authenticity, it seems to maintain some aspect, though definitely going for some sort of Vietnamese-American fusion approach, which I respect.

You’re probably wondering about the title of this post:

My friend offered to pay the bill so I let him do that, and then we left to go find ice cream. We went back to Com in search of a spoon or two – and then disaster struck.

Upon walking back in, we made eye contact with our waiter, who eyed us suspiciously as he walked over. Not a smile in sight – what happened to the polite, cheery guy who had showed us how to make our vermicelli wraps?

When I asked for disposable spoons, he said the restaurant didn’t have any, so then I asked if we could just borrow a spoon and sit outside on their patio. He promptly pulled us aside and asked in a not very polite way if anything was wrong with the meal, because we had not tipped him. Embarrassed, we quickly gave him an overdue tip and he grumpily produced some disposable spoons for us.

I thought the restaurant didn’t have any disposable spoons????

Okay, we didn’t tip him. That was our mistake. But it wasn’t intentional; I hope the guy realized that from the horrified look on our faces after he told us.

BUT REGARDLESS, IS A WAITER EVER SUPPOSED TO DO THAT? He used passive aggression in a directly confrontational way that made me feel very uncomfortable. Despite how great our meal initially tasted, that encounter has ruined the whole experience for me.

I’m not going to just sit by and rant about how good the meal was (though it really was) but ignore the after-meal encounter that left a sour taste in my mouth.

I’m not sure if I will personally return to Com, though I still think anyone who goes (and doesn’t forget to tip their waiter) will have an enjoyable meal. I wouldn’t let my individual experience get in the way of the aura that the restaurant as a whole is getting at.

More on tipping culture; as a cafe employee myself, I understand at least to some extent the frustration that ensues when an employee puts forward a great deal of effort to make magic happen for a demanding customer.

It’s written in between the lines of our job description, and in our culture, some sort of monetary compensation is expected. Though sometimes customers just take off, leaving us in the dust. I get it. 

But do you know what you just did? You just alienated a satisfied diner who was completely willing to come back the next week and not forget to tip. You never know the intentions of customers who don’t tip. Perhaps they forgot, perhaps you unknowingly offended them.

I am hesitant about being so forward about someone who didn’t tip; I would never confront anyone like that.

What do you think of American tipping culture?

It’s got a fascinating history.

5486 Chamblee Dunwoody Rd, Atlanta, GA 30338
(770) 512-7410

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7 thoughts on “Com Vietnamese Grill in Dunwoody: Our Waiter Confronted Us After the Meal

  1. On the flip side, although highly improbable, could he actually be worried about his own serving abilities? I know I wasn’t there, but was his tone so clear that it shone through? People usually don’t know how to handle these sort of situations, and a lot of miscommunication blurs the lines between genuineness and ill will at times.

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    1. Unlikely. Before we tipped him he denied that the restaurant had disposable spoons, and only after he had some bills in his hand did he “magically” produce some for us.
      I don’t have a grudge against him or something, and I certainly understand his sentiment, I just thought he was really brash about the whole thing.

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  2. http://www.indeed.com/salary?q1=Waiter%2Fwaitress&l1=Atlanta,+GA
    This quick google search revealed the average pay for a waiter in Atlanta GA. As you can see, at around $2.35, it’s not much.

    Until you’ve been on that end of the table as a server who is supporting themselves 100% from their job(s), you don’t realize just how common your actions are. You’ll provide excellent service, the customer will have no complaints, you may even see them come back – yet they don’t tip.

    It’s frustrating and insulting, though you try not to take it personally, you can’t help it when faced that at the end of the day without tips you’ve made about $16. Let me repeat that. SIXTEEN DOLLARS. And you pay taxes out of that! Now imagine you are trying to pay rent, buy your own groceries, put clothing on your children’s backs, pay insurance, utilities, ect ect ect…on this mediocre salary. A server lives or dies on his/her tips.

    I know you posted that you work in a cafe, I’m assuming it’s a college job? I respectfully say you still don’t have the same perspective. No insult to you, you are fortunate to be in college and on your way to hopefully earning a degree to where you will never have to rely on this sort of work to support yourself or your family. This man may never be in your position.

    We are all humans struggling on the sometimes rocky road of life. Was he rude? yes. Are you perhaps being unsympathetic considering the circumstances? I’ll leave you to answer that.

    Remember your own logo on this blog, of the crabby food critic Anton Ego that demanded some ‘fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective’. Ahhh…

    But that being said, you didn’t pay the bill. Your unobservant or possibly blatantly cheapskate friend did. Perhaps it was deliberate, creating this awkward situation that could have been avoided with a few dollars.

    Part of our unspoken rule of dining out is we can’t afford it if we can’t afford to tip well.

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    1. Sheba, what you said makes a lot of sense. I think I acknowledged that in my blog post, but I don’t think there’s a universal truth to this matter! It can be interpreted by either side in a lot of different ways. I tried to reconcile this by staying neutral when evaluating the restaurant as a whole. I think I was just surprised and unsure what to think of my waiter’s behavior.

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  3. Bryant should have gotten your ire. Very few people “forget” to tip (you were not at McDonalds).

    People don’t tip because, a) the service was awful (which is not the case here) b) they can’t afford to tip or c) are flat out cheap.

    If you are going to be a food blogger of sorts, hobby or otherwise, ensure a tip is left if you are not footing the bill (I would assume you would otherwise). Also, you stiffed the guy. Do you actually think he would want to assist you with additional service (the spoon)?

    Additionally, did the ice cream place NOT have freaking plastic spoons? Or was it extra $ for spoons and Bryant didn’t have it? I guess it’s a good thing they didn’t, or the server wouldn’t have gotten his tip and Bryant wouldn’t be exposed as a cheapskate, or worse, an idiot.

    You SHOULD have felt uncomfortable, that was his point. Frankly, he had every right to do so. You don’t work for free, neither does he. Own it, or better yet, Bryant should.

    IMO you should have left this off your review. Not tipping, intentional or not, is in bad taste and regardless of the servers reaction after the fact, all this post accomplishes is making you and especially Bryant look bad.

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