Houdini would have been hard-pressed to match the magical act of Marseille-born, Paris-trained chef Philippe Jaccquet, who somehow produces a full menu worth of authentic Southern French bistro cuisine from a kitchen smaller than Richard Simmons' wardrobe closet. The cramped dining room is barely larger, but brightened with Gallic knickknacks and posters hanging from vibrantly colored walls. A favorite is the mussels and frites, and also steak frites — heck, we really like the frites, crisply culled from fresh potatoes and served in paper-lined tins. Other lunch and dinner specialties hit the spot in flavorful no-frills fashion, from escargots to bouillabaisse to steak in peppercorn sauce; from duck pâté with fig tapenade to lamb shank roasted in orange and thyme (appetizers average $10 to $15, main courses $11 to $21). It doesn't take sleight of hand to conjure an honest country meal here — except on Sundays, when Pastis is closed.