Bun in the Oven

You'll need more coffee after one of these sweet rolls

Some sticky buns are mired in stiff caramel. Others are so dense or stale, an indulgence turns into a chore.

The buns ($4) at Machine Coffee & Machine Deli, however, give "sticky" a good name.

The pastries have long been a staple at Foreign Cinema's weekend brunch. When owners John Clark and Gayle Pirie opened their café and deli on central Market Street, the restaurant began delivering freshly baked sticky buns every morning to serve with Four Barrel coffee.

When the baristas ask you if you want the pastry warmed, nod. The time the bun spends in the toaster oven while you're waiting for your cappuccino softens the caramel and loosens its hold on the spiral of dough.

The tight swirl of the brioche belies how airy it seems. That's not to say the sticky bun is a piece of fluff. With each new bite you hit a cluster of pecans, a pocket of cinnamon and brown sugar, or a glossy skein of caramel.

Before you start eating, make sure napkins–and a sink–are nearby.

Machine Coffee & Machine Deli, 1024 Market St. (at Golden Gate Ave.); 415-913-7370 or facebook.com/machinecoffeedeli