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I miss chef Mark Schenk’s loopy grin beaming from the tiny kitchen of the now defunct Red Cafe in Park Slope. I miss his pork burger just as much.

However, what eases the pain of his departure is Canaille, the new French bistro that opened in the former cafe’s space in October. What was once a cosseting, all-red interior is now painted a sunny Provencal yellow glimmering with the light cast from a crystal chandelier.

“We wanted to open a place with good food, good wine and very French service,” Marie MacLean, who co-owns the restaurant with Philippe De Crespi, told GO Brooklyn.

“We imagined a place where people going to the Brooklyn Academy of Music could drop in for a delicious meal before a performance, and post-BAM, too,” said MacLean. “We’re open late enough [11 pm] to accommodate them.”

Michelle Holcomb (formerly of Robin des Bois on Smith Street) is in the kitchen turning out classic Gallic fare. With temperatures dipping, her rich onion soup and lusty “moules frites” (mussels with French fries, pictured) get the meal off to a fine start. Follow that with braised short ribs and celery root puree, or steak frites. And for dessert, what else but creme caramel?

All the ingredients are sourced from small Brooklyn markets. The wine list, chosen by De Crespi, who named the bistro after a friend (canaille is French for “scruffy” or “raffish” and is often used as an affectionate nick-name) is made up of bottles from boutique French vineyards.

“Customers say, ‘I feel like I’m in Paris,’” said MacLean. “That’s what we wanted to hear.”

Canaille (78 Fifth Ave. between St. Marks Place and Warren Street in Park Slope) accepts cash only. Entrees: $16-$19. Dinner is served Tuesday through Sunday. Closed Mondays. Subway: 2,3,N, R, 4 and 5 to Atlantic Avenue. For more information, call (718) 789-8899.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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