March 18, 2018 | ° F

Variety at Sanctuary provides students late-night delights

Photo by Shirley Yu |

The Sanctuary cheesesteak is one of many options including coffee, ice cream and quesadillas offered at Sanctuary, located on Easton Avenue. The food vendor is open until 2 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 4 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Rutgers students can be seen donning their coats and clinging to their hot chocolates and coffees for warmth as winter approaches and temperatures drop.

Despite such frigid weather, I find myself unwilling to delight in these heated refreshments and instead craving the chilly bliss of ice cream. Call me crazy, but there is just something about sub-zero temperatures that make sundaes so much better.

This past week, I took a walk down Easton Avenue in search of a frozen dessert and stumbled upon a veritable sanctuary.

Sanctuary first opened its doors as a coffee shop 11 years ago on West Main Street in Somerville, N.J. After two years at this location, the shop opened in New Brunswick and expanded its menu. Sanctuary now resides at 135 Easton Ave.

Amanda Leroux, a manager at Sanctuary, attributes the success to versatility and variety.

“We survived because we didn’t just do coffee,” said Leroux, an 11-year employee at Sanctuary who has been with the shop since the very beginning.

Popular for its wide selection of handmade ice cream flavors, Sanctuary obtains its ice cream from Piece of Cake Frozen Specialties, Inc., according to Leroux. Piece of Cake is a gourmet ice cream, gelato and sorbet manufacturer based in Rahway, N.J.

Sanctuary has staple flavors, including the classic chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, but offers more exotic flavors such as pumpkin pie all year round. The shop offers seasonal flavors as well, and soon plans on stocking egg nog ice cream for the upcoming winter season.

Some of their more unique ice cream flavors include apple pie, salted caramel, white chocolate raspberry, strawberry cheesecake and a new addition of “Adventures in Butterscotch,” a vanilla base mixed with butterscotch, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, a heath bar, Oreos and brownie pieces.

At $3.99 for a small, $4.99 for a medium and $5.99 for a large, the ice cream at Sanctuary might seem expensive, but the splurge is worth it.

Their green tea ice cream provided a light matcha flavor, similar to a green milk tea. The ice cream was sweet, dense and creamy. I had no problems finishing a whole cup.

Sundaes, milkshakes and ice cream floats are also available and can be made from any of the available flavors. Sanctuary offers hot beverages, including coffee, espressos, lattes, cappuccinos, café au lait, hot chocolate and white hot chocolate.

The shop provides a lengthy menu of wraps, quesadillas, sandwiches and burgers for the customer looking to consume more than just a frozen treat. With more than 25 wraps to choose from, there is enough variety to satisfy most customers.

For only an extra $2.75, any wrap, sandwich or quesadilla can be upgraded to a combo, served with a side of fries and a regular fountain soda.

While dining at Sanctuary, I opted to try one of the more popular items — the “Buffadilla,” a quesadilla packed with grilled chicken and french fries cooked in buffalo sauce and cheddar jack cheese.

The quesadilla flatbread was pleasantly flaky, and the grilled chicken seemed to possess a fresh flavor in contrast to more processed variants like chicken nuggets. The buffalo sauce, which provided a mild spice complementary to the poultry, was present just enough to coat the quesadilla’s contents and never oozed uncontrollably.

The fries and cheese seemed a bit like filler, becoming lost in the flavor of the buffalo sauce. The blue cheese dressing that was served on the side paired well with the quesadilla and soothed the cayenne heat, but in truth it wasn’t even necessary — the quesadilla was already delicious in its own right.

I also had the chance to taste the “Kentastik” wrap, a wrap that features beefsteak, grilled onions, onion rings, barbecue sauce and cheddar jack cheese.

The flaky exterior of the wrap cradled a beefy interior smothered in tangy barbecue sauce, complemented by the bright, crisp flavor of onions. Though the cheddar jack cheese failed to add much flavor to the wrap, the “Kentastik” was still quite tasty.

Climbing the stairs located at the back of Sanctuary will bring the customer to 3rd Earth Comics, a specialty store offering comic books and vintage video games.

In the past, Sanctuary sold comics and video games in their downstairs area in front of the counter. Since April of this year, 3rd Earth Comics has begun renting the upstairs space.

Catering to the late night crowd, Sanctuary remains open until 2 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 4 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. The shop offers a delivery service until 1 a.m. every day for orders with a minimum of $10.

Though Sanctuary’s average delivery time is 30 minutes after receiving an order, several reviews on Yelp have mentioned lengthier delivery times. Leroux says she refuses to sacrifice quality for speed  — everything is made to order after receiving a customer’s phone call.

“There’s no buffadillas sitting around waiting,” she said. “Everything’s made fresh.”

Leroux states that if fulfilling an order is taking longer than expected, the staff will let the customer know immediately. She said they try to have the best customer service they can offer.

Sanctuary will continue to stand out as a combination ice cream parlor, coffee house and eatery. With quesadillas, wraps, coffee, ice cream and more, the options are endless.

Whether it is late at night or mid-winter, be sure to stop by Sanctuary on Easton Avenue for a “Buffadilla” and a scoop of one of their many ice cream flavors.

By Matt Mikolay

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