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Two on Earth is a small-town charmer

High marks for Pineville bakery and café

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If you find yourself pining on a cold winter morning for a lovely lemon scone and cup of tea, I suggest you head over to Two on Earth Bakery Cafe on the strip of historic, quaint buildings in downtown Pineville. There you will find a sherbet-color-palette corner room gracefully outfitted with soft seating for laptop loungers, and sweeping windows. At the tables are folks nursing cups of coffee, sourced from a roaster in Hendersonville, North Carolina, or tea, from a 40 loose-leaf collection. A steady stream of people line up at the counter near the lit display case bloated with bars, brownies, muffins, chocolate-dipped macaroons, cupcakes — including gluten-free — and sweet and savory scones.

Owner Alana Sult served in the United States Marine Corps before moving to the Charlotte area eight years ago. Three years later, she had a successful business selling homemade scones to area coffee shops. That business evolved into Two on Earth, which opened in April 2011. Today, her open kitchen is staffed by chefs, primarily from the baking and pastry program at Johnson & Wales University, who are adept at imbuing bakery items with old country style and gourmet lightness.

But the menu does not end with baked goods. Its true strength lies in their sandwiches, many from a sandwich press; soups; and salads. All items are made in-house with the exception of the bread and the crust for the daily quiche.

Grilled pimento cheese sandwiches will resonate with anyone who remembers this Southern comfort food from either home or the lunch counter at old-styled fountain service pharmacies. Generally, those were griddled soft white bread sandwiches with a pimento and mild cheddar mix. Sult has opted to use peppery Peppadew peppers, rather than pimentos, and then meld the sourdough sandwich in a press. The result is the juxtaposition of old and new: a tender chewy sammy with sass. Inspired little recipes like this help Two on Earth avoid being "just" a cafe.

Also from the panini is the brined chicken breast sandwich, with, perhaps, too much pesto, but oozing with mozzarella, and a corned beef (or turkey) Rueben. On the bifurcated sandwich list (hot and not) are a variety of salads including egg and tuna. Among the more popular sandwiches are the ground cashew, granola, strawberries, bananas and honey wrap, and the chicken salad with water chestnuts and red grapes on a croissant. Sandwiches are served with a small cup of glazed carrots. Morning egg sandwiches are stacked with cheese, locally made Neese's sausage patties, apple-smoked bacon, or ham.

The apple walnut salad, with thin slices of tart green apples, bits of gorgonzola cheese, candied walnuts and blitzed with the house white wine vinaigrette is quite good. But as it is still winter, the house-made soups, such as white bean and bacon, and chili with cornbread, are definite items to try.

The only downside at Two on Earth is the promise of Pie Friday listed on the menu board, but currently unavailable. That's unfortunate. After a decade of a national cupcake obsession, pie, the quintessential American dessert, deserves to emerge from the buttercream shadows. For mom and apple pie, you know. Sult notes that pie slices were not popular when they were offered, but smaller mini pies were. Currently she is considering reinstating Pie Friday. I hope so. After all, who isn't fond of freshly baked apple pie, sliced or mini, paired with a scoop of locally renowned Tony's vanilla ice cream, also available here? That would be perfect.

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