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The Super Bowl

We thought wine, a bowl of shrimp, soup and salad would slow us down, but there's something about the Broker's power atmosphere that inspires a powerful hunger. We didn't so much as pause before we dug into the prime rib ($12.95) and the petite filet and lobster ($19.95). Both steaks were excellent: one a slab of pink-centered, dry-aged, slow-roasted juicy prime rib, the other a hunk of perfectly medium-rare, soft-as-buttah filet mignon. But while the lobster was fine, the drawn butter strangely lacked flavor (and really, isn't lobster just an excuse for sucking down 55 fat grams of butter?). A smattering of steamed vegetables--broccoli, carrots, cauliflower--made both entrees somehow seem healthy, so we polished off the meal with an enormous slice of creme de menthe-enhanced frozen mud pie ($5) and a densely packed apple pie a la mode ($5).

Then we stumbled, stuffed, up the stairs, through the lobby of the Colorado Business Bank that sits on top of the Broker and out into the sunshine, all the while thinking of how soon we'd be able to return.

Very soon, it turned out. The next day I was back for lunch, the real deal at the Broker, since entrees run between $10 and $20 during the day and in the $30 range at night. This time my companion and I were torn between trying to keep the total cholesterol count down and having fun, so we compromised by starting with the escargot appetizer ($5.95) and then split a cobb salad ($9.95) and a Monte Cristo ($8.25).

The escargot could have killed us right there. Six snails had been individually wrapped in puff pastry before being drenched in garlic butter and baked. Squeeze these bundles and stand back! Too much butter. Too much puff pastry. Sad little snails.

The main event was much better. The first cobb was created at Hollywood's Brown Derby restaurant, another classic, and the Broker does an excellent, generous take: fresh tomatoes, field greens and avocado, crisp bacon bits, good-quality smoked turkey and ham, hard-boiled eggs and bleu cheese, all of which would have been killer covered with bleu cheese dressing, except that this bleu cheese dressing was packed with dill, which was a first (and also potentially deadly, since I'm allergic to dill). So I settled for the decent ranch and looked to the Monte Cristo for the real fat. No disappointment there--this three-inch-thick sandwich of ham, turkey and Swiss had been evenly coated in beer batter and deep-fried, then served with three kinds of jam. Monte Cristo fans will love it, at least until they go into cardiac arrest.

On a third visit, I was determined to find heart-healthy fare. Unless you go with a salad for lunch, you're looking at steaks, Reubens, Alfredo and Newburg, and just two vegetable-based dishes; dinner offers a wider variety. But it was hard to order the Rocky Mountain trout grilled with toasted almonds ($24) when I could instead suck down tournedos Oscar ($34), two beef medallions topped with crab meat and asparagus and smothered in textbook-perfect bordelaise and bearnaise sauces. And although I liked the baked smoked salmon ($32) on a bed of fettuccine sauteed with garlic, shallots, tomatoes, portabellos and white wine, I could have married the filet Wellington ($34), so in love was I with more buttah beef wrapped in puff pastry and covered with more bordelaise.

Dinners include not only the shrimp and bread, but also soup or salad (the green salad is a bit austere, but whaddaya expect?) and dessert, a choice of cheesecake, ice cream or sherbet. Naturally, we went with the cheesecake, and it was exactly the kind of cheesecake we expected from the Broker--dense, rich, filling, dependable.

Just like the Broker.

The Broker Restaurant, 821 17th Street, 292-5065. Hours: 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 5-10 p.m. Monday-Friday; 5-10 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

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