Date with a foodie
I need a "knock it out of the park" place to take a real foodie/ could-have-been-a-chef date tonight. I'm looking for the more hole-in-the-wall kinds of places that are just incredibly good food-- but not something like Bernardin.
Any recommendations would be great. I'm aiming to impress without looking like it.
I will recommend Degustation, a small cozy restaurant with only 16 seats. Since your date is a real foodie, I think he/she will appreciate the experience of sitting at the open kitchen and watching the chefs preparing the food in real actions. You two will also have the opportunities to talk to the chefs while you are enjoying the food, so it should be a unique dining for both of you.
Of course, the most important thing is the food which has always been delicious at Degustation. Extremely reasonably priced. It isn't noisy or loud and I consider it as quite a perfect place for a causal date.
Since it is a small restaurant, you will definitely have to make reservation.
I'm not sure what your definition of a "hole in the wall" is. Like others, I think Degustation is a great place for a foodie and would be my first choice as well. It's not a restaurant like Le Bernardin, but I probably wouldn't classify it as a hole in the wall either. And I do think something like Yakitori Totto that misnathalie mentioned is more of a hole-in-the wall and would also do the trick. Yakitori Totto probably has more of an unassuming location -- it's located on the second floor of a small building.
re: Miss Needle
Degustation is definitely not a 'hole in the wall.' It's a great place to take a foodie on a date, but the interior is sleek, clean and very well designed. It's small, but reservations fill up and if you go for the 10-course tasting menus (which I loved when I went a few weeks ago), you'd be looking at $75 per person and that's without drinks. Good place for a 5th date, if you have the room in your budget.
I love Mary's Fish Camp.
Don't worry if the food sucks - a good way to judge character is when something doesn't live up to a person's expectation. If s/he doesn't like the food but can't be civil about it you've got a great window into his/her character.