At the Riverside Inn and Restaurant in East Machias, chef Rocky Rakoczy faces several challenges. Sourcing high-quality ingredients, aside from local seafood, in far Down East Maine is one. Working without a community of like-minded chefs is another. Yet another is the fact that Washington County is a region of low incomes and hardscrabble lives.

Current trends in urban spots are slow to arrive this far Down East. Nose-to-tail butchery refers to the deer you eviscerated in the woods last November. Ramps? That’s what you trailer your boat to. This region’s caviar are widely coveted wild blueberries that thrive in its acidic, sandy soil.

Riverside Inn presents challenges for a reviewer as well (although a lack of trendy food on the menu isn’t one of them). In what context do you put the consistently delicious food that Rakoczy almost single-handedly puts on the table from a large menu at his 30-seat dining room: that of Maine’s largest city to the south or of this sparsely populated county?

There is much to like — nay, love — about this neck of the woods and particularly this restaurant located in a bed-and-breakfast. Much of the dining room is a porch that was converted into a long narrow room with large windows. It overlooks the tidal East Machias River, where two pairs of bald eagles nest on the opposite bank. Binoculars inhabit the tables right next to the salt and pepper shakers. Dine at dusk for an impressive show of avian territory and fishing rights.

Once home to a ship captain who watched his schooner being built on the river, the inn harks back to early 1800s. Its interior is old-fashioned and modest. The decor of floral wallpaper, lace curtains and dark wood extends into the dining room.

Four of us visited the first week in June and dined from the winter menu. The summer’s menu was about a week away.

For an appetizer, sushi-grade tuna was seared just enough to take the chill off and served in 1-inch slices over fried wonton wrappers with scallions and wasabi mayonnaise ($9.95). This creation was not authentically Japanese, but delicious nonetheless.

Mixed berry sorbet followed as a palate cleanser. It was tart and deeply flavored, but it arrived half-melted. Still, it was a welcome touch.

Seafood Meritage ($30.95) was a luxurious mix of tender scallops, lobster, haddock and large shrimp (all but the shrimp locally sourced), served in a white wine and garlic sauce with red peppers and capers, and topped with Asiago cheese.

Fresh halibut, sourced from Machias Bay, is a menu mainstay, and the inn offers several variations. The honey-mustard preparation ($27.95) came with a golden crust on a 2-inch-thick piece of mild, slightly moist fish that was too light on overall flavor. But the halibut Vera Cruz ($29.95) got a kick from jalapenos, which the chef combined with lime, thyme, cilantro and green olives to great effect.

Minced shrimp, crab, shallots and mushrooms filled a poached Atlantic salmon fillet seasoned with paprika and lemon, and served with a dill/turmeric/mayonnaise sauce zigzagged on top. This rosy stuffing nicely enhanced the standard-issue vehicle. The fish is a locally farmed product — pens are visible at many spots in the coastal waters — and we ordered it for its short travel to our plate.

There is plenty on the menu to please a meat lover, including Riverside Wellington (the inn’s version of the classic beef entree omits the foie gras). We chose instead the fennel-and-rosemary crusted New Zealand lamb ($27.95), which came as three or four (depending on weight) flavorful and perfectly cooked chops served with a caper stock and Marsala dipping sauce and roasted fingerling potatoes. It was an excellent platter.

Demi salads came with each entree and rose above the ordinary with their homemade dressings, including a blueberry vinaigrette and an outstanding creamy/tangy tomatillo avocado.

Desserts were good, but not remarkable. A homemade tequila- and coconut-flavored cake in the shape of a bundt had a dense, custardlike top tinged with Grand Marnier. Chocolate cake in the same vein — moist, rich, served cold — was thinly filled with buttercream frosting and had chocolate glaze on top ($5.25 each).

The Riverside Inn offers traditional foods cooked well and inventions that grow out of the chef’s personal experimentation rather than current trends. In a few instances he may cut corners, but in most, his preparation is quite involved. The lamb was terrific on successive nights, and the seafood shone. Our young waiters were cordial and gracious, trained by inn owners well-versed in hospitality.

The food here isn’t cheap. But delicious entrees and a view of the natural world that is hard to duplicate keep this restaurant high on the meter. Dishes are well thought out and cooked to their best advantage.

The inn may not have big-city flair, but dinner is as enjoyable an outing as it is in many high-quality establishments in Greater Portland. Riverside Inn is a haven of comfort and refinement — Down East-style. 

Nancy Heiser is a freelance writer and editor who lives near Portland. Her work has appeared in national and regional publications.