Euphoric Eat: Sanctuary

The word ‘sanctuary’ is traditionally defined as a place of safety or sacredness. This Easton Avenue eatery has validated its namesake, and then some.

According to the restaurant’s website, their mission statement is “to be a cut above the rest, and to be a safe haven from fast food.” While there are certainly plenty of artery-clogging choices to indulge in, make no mistake – among their culinary counterparts, they certainly are a cut above the rest.

I’ve been frequenting this magnificent eatery since my days of off-campus living, and besides the blight it has brought to my bank account, I have enjoyed every meal there. From breakfast, lunch, and dinner, to the late-night cravings, Sanctuary’s ever-expanding menu selection has brought me joy with each and every visit.

After recently going through a change in management, as well as some renovations to the restaurant’s interior, Sanctuary feels like a brand new place. Though I do not want to disparage the prior management team, let’s just say that the service is miles ahead of where it used to be. Nonetheless, it is still just as lovable as when it was somewhat of a hole in the wall. Thankfully (or regrettably), it is still open until 2 in the morning on most nights – score one for the munchies!

One thing that has not changed is the quality of the food, which has always been outstanding. Though Sanctuary is known for signature items like its burgers and cheesesteaks, healthy eaters should have no reason to fear. There are plenty of great vegetarian options, chicken entrees, and salads, all of which are reasonably priced. You can download a PDF menu here. All of those choices are available in panini, wrap, or quesadilla form, further adding to the diversity of the menu.

They have also added a new dimension to their menu – ethnic cuisine. Of course, there are plenty of authentic Middle Eastern and Asian places to eat in the Hub City, but given the chance, I would certainly try these international dishes. The chicken tikka dish, a tandoori chicken breast with sautéed onions and peppers, looks particularly appetizing. I hope they make it nice and spicy!

Despite the myriad of healthier options, I always seem to gravitate towards the choices which induce food comas; my favorite items include hearty, if not indigestible meal items. When it comes to unhealthy eating, Sanctuary is rivaled only by the legendary Rutgers grease trucks.

In my opinion, the most illustrious item on Sanctuary’s menu is the buffadilla, which consists of a quesadilla stuffed with fried (or grilled) chicken, french fries, cheddar jack, and spicy buffalo sauce. For only $8, this quintessential quesadilla has long served as one of my go-to meals in all of New Brunswick. See it, in all of its gooey glory, below!

The Almighty Buffadilla

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If your plans include going to the electric chair, perhaps “The Monster” is right for you. The aptly-named cheeseburger is essentially diabetes between buns: THREE beef patties, topped with onion rings, fries, and three different types of cheeses. And of course, bacon. No gastronomic gluttony is complete without such porky perfection.

Personally, I have never eaten it, for the simple fact that I would like to live past the age of 50. It also costs $18, which is actually pretty reasonable – but only if you are trying to feed a family.

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If you managed to make it this far through the review, at this point you have either (A) felt a series of overpowering growling sensations in your stomach, or (B) been thoroughly repulsed by the sheer obscenity of some of the menu options. Fear not, friends. Their frozen treats are the cream of the crop! (pun very much intended)

The uncertainty that comes with deciding whether to order ice cream in a cup or cone is generally a good problem to have. Having to choose from 30+ flavors, however, can be a stressful situation, especially in my case. Brownie Batter? Cookie Dough? Death by Chocolate? Peanut Butter Panic? I could go on and on, but the point is that Sanctuary has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to ice cream.

Cookie Surprise x Brownie Batter

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One of my favorite combos is the Cookie Surprise and Brownie Batter; indeed, a divine pairing of palatable perfection. After doing some mathematical calculations (with the help of Google, of course), I determined that there are nearly 600 different combinations of ice cream you can make. To try them all would be an insurmountable task.

Last but not least, we have the milkshakes. I am definitely not the foremost authority on savoring them; I usually gulp them down like glasses of water, but I’ve had more than my fair share over time. The ice cream to milk ratio in Sanctuary’s shakes is unparalleled, and its smooth taste is the stuff of legend.

With both quantity and quality on its menu, Sanctuary is without a doubt one of my favorite restaurants in the ever-expanding culinary scene of New Brunswick. This eatery has been a staple throughout my eating odyssey at Rutgers and beyond.

Sanctuary may not seem like anything special from the outside, but it is exactly what its name implies – a haven for foodies!