Sur La Table's New Line of Stainless Cookware?
I live near one of the SLT stores in Chicago, and I find their goods to be top quality. They have sales often, a big one right now, and that's the only time to buy. I haven't bought any SLT stainless cookware, but I have some All-Clad. I like it, but it's insanely overpriced. A 4 quart saute with lid that was a factory second, cost $130 plus shipping from their factory. I also have a Cuisinart stainless saute pan from Marshall's that is almost as good, for almost $100 less!
There's much to be said for buying a piece of cookware at a time, because a set often contains pieces you won't use, but that depends also on the set. I have found Sur La Table to be a good shop, with courteous salespeople and quality goods, and I agree that the SLT cookware sets look sturdy and reasonably priced. Were I to buy a set today, I'd consider that one seriously. Good luck, whichever you decide.
I haven't tried it but when I've been in the store I've made a visual comparison. They look and feel like very similar construction and materials to me and they have the same heft and balance to my mind. At full price they were cheaper than All-Clad and now many of the basic useful shapes are on sale. If I were buying cookware, I'd definitely give it a try.
Have you checked out the warrantee on the S-la-T? It says "limited lifetime" on the S-la-T site without specifying what the limitations are. I'd call and ask.
You're smart to start out with one or two really durable pieces that you'll have forever. I think this will be a good solution for you provided S-la-T stands behind their stuff -- and I'm assuming they will. Also, keep in mind there's no reason as you buy other pieces not to experiment with other brands/manufacturers/materials.
Hope there's a store in your area so you don't spend everything you've saved on shipping.