Originating in swampland east of Young Man Road in northern McIntosh County, the White Chimney River [also referred to as White Chimney Creek] flows southerly for several miles before joining the Sapelo River. I haven’t located an origin for the name, but would presume it to be related to an early house or other landmark with white chimneys. Seems logical, but who knows…
The White Chimney River is surrounded by marsh and hammock on both sides for most of its brief course.
This landscape is typical of estuaries along the Atlantic seaboard.
In the southeast, they generally feature palmettos, oaks, and cedars.
A web of smaller creeks feed into the river from all directions.
Like the rivers they support, they are dependent on the tides.
These estuaries are integral to the abundance of marine life that attracts fishermen to the region.
This sign, across from Hunter’s Cafe, sums up the mood around Shellman Bluff; no hurries and no worries. The words change from time to time, but the message really doesn’t. It overlooks the idyllic Julienton River, a tributary of the Sapelo River.
Hunter’s Cafe is one of the best loved local hangouts on the Georgia coast and it’s the epicenter of “downtown” Shellman Bluff. Open since 1951, it’s located in a World War II-era army barrack acquired as surplus from nearby Fort Stewart.
It’s a no-frills kind of place that caters to locals while welcoming the occasional tourist. If you’re in a rush, go elsewhere, because they don’t get in a hurry here. If you read internet reviews, you’ll hear people complaining about the wait time, but that misses the point of Hunter’s Cafe. It’s as much about the experience and atmosphere as it is the food. The original section of the restaurant feels like a neighborhood gathering place, and the bar, added in the 1970s, has the ambiance of a classic dive. And the staff are very welcoming and friendly, even if you’re not a local.
The food is really good. I visited with my parents and my aunt. My mother ordered fried green tomatoes, which I generally don’t care for, as an appetizer. There was something different about the Hunter’s version and I enjoyed them. I also don’t care for battered french fries, but their perfectly floured shoestring potatoes were memorable and way above average. The fresh Georgia shrimp was excellent, as it must be in a place like this, and it was accompanied by the most perfectly fried hush puppy to be found, amazingly light and flavorful. My mother and I agreed we could have made a meal of the hush puppies.
Considered by many to be one of the best seafood restaurants in Georgia*, Speed’s Kitchen is an unassuming place, impervious to aesthetics but instead completely focused on the quality of the food they serve.
They have very limited hours and they don’t take credit cards but aficionados will tell you it’s well worth the wait. For the impatient, they note on their menu that they’d rather you come back when you’re not in a rush.
Find them on Facebook or Trip Advisor for menu, location, and hours.
*- Shellman Bluff has another iconic local seafood restaurant, Hunters Cafe. We’ll visit there on our next trip.