As fans of Henry James know, snobbery can be appealing. No local restaurant has more snob appeal than The American. It's one of the most beautiful dining rooms in the city, with the old-fashioned refined style of service one rarely finds in restaurants anymore. But there's a haughty edge to this elegance, which some diners find totally intimidating, even terrifying. Others think the place has loosened up a bit thanks to general manager Solomon Melesse, who took the servers out of tuxedos and toned down the rigid dress code (jackets are now "preferred" rather than required at dinner). "There will always be a certain snootiness here," Melesse says. "After all, this restaurant is comparable to a Mercedes, so we can't act like it's a Volkswagen." But, he allows, "We have changed the attitude of the staff. The rule now is: friendly, without becoming familiar."