Our experience? $$$$$$$$$S!!!!!!!
The results were great - I'll post a few pics when I get around to it, but we definitely spent more than we planned, and even with a wonderful and responsible contractor.
I'll post more later, but one particular recommendation I would make, rather than black granite countertop, is to go with a New England slate countertop. It has a classic, soft, look. It comes in a few different, natural looking colours (ours is the classic grey-black). It is perhaps the only counter material on which you can put a hot (even sizzling - 500 F) cooking pot without causing any damage (I have done it many, many times). It is very low maintenance and stain free - the only thing we had to do is initially seal it with some standard mineral oil, repeating once about 6 months later. The slate was expensive, but no more so than other high-end countertops - actually it was cheaper than many of the other alternatives we had available around here. You have to get the real thing though, from New England, not the cheap imported slates from India.
When there's an eel in the lake that's as long as a snake that's a moray.