The August issue of Consumer Reports just happens to feature kitchen make-overs. Below are the ratings for countertops. I'm getting Silestone countertops, which are quartz (good choice, eh?).
Cabinets aren't rated in this issue; the emphasis is on refurbishing existing ones. (If I'd had decent cabinets, I would have considered refurbishing them.)
I have yet to hear any word from the electrician about the permit. This project is now on hold.