First of all, The Union has a separate entrance. When Elias Trahanas and his brother Bobby took over the former Carltun catering venue at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, renaming it The Lannin, he wanted to make sure that "it had its own personality, that it wasn't an afterthought" to the main facility.
Instead of using the catering hall's grand entrance and proceeding down a hallway that doubles as a reception area, The Union has its own front door and lobby.
Next, the brothers hired a chef who had made a name for himself not in catering or hotels, but on the Long Island restaurant scene: Tom Gloster, executive chef at Woodbury’s Rustic Root from 2016 to 2021 and then at Opus in Jericho.
“The idea was always to create a distinct brand,” Gloster said. “This isn’t The Union at The Lannin. It’s The Union.”
Gloster acknowledged that many restaurants at catering halls never achieve true independence — nor excellence. “You’ve got to separate the kitchen lines,” he explained. “We have a catering line, that’s where you’ll see those 60-gallon tilting kettles and 40-gallon tilting skillets, but all the restaurant food is cooked separately by our restaurant staff.”
Gloster’s menu recalls his approach at Rustic Root: seasonal, modern and eclectic. But he’s not a zealot. “This is Long Island and I need to have lettuce in the winter. But you’re not going to see watermelon-feta salad or corn relish in January,” he said.
What you will see is a menu that changes four times a year and which now features a classic French onion soup; Brussels sprouts with yogurt, mint and almonds; Little Gem lettuce salad with roasted butternut squash, burnt honey and goat cheese; double-cut pork chop with roasted grape, wilted spinach and whole-grain mustard; grilled branzino with tomato-caper stew and smoked olive oil and a 10-ounce burger with Cheddar, onion jam and homemade pickles and fries.
Dry-aged prime steaks include bone-in rib-eye, New York strip, porterhouse and tomahawk for two.
Gloster’s desire to have “something for everyone” dictated the inclusion not only of chicken Parm and individual pizzas, but also a full sushi menu highlighted by a Japanese Bagel — whose “bagel” is made of tempura-fried “everything” sushi rice, schmeared with cream cheese and then draped with salmon, tuna and avocado — and the American Dream Roll, enfolding lobster, mango, cucumber and crunch, topped by the head and tailed by the tail of a Maine lobster.
Most starters range between $14 and $20; mains between $24 and $38; steaks and chops between $39 and $72.
“We really wanted to make this an everyday kind of place, even though it looks like the kind of place you go to celebrate,” he said.
Indeed the room evinces a restrained grandeur, sleek but luxurious with comfortable upholstery, tiled floors, a coffered ceiling and a wall of windows that leads onto a huge deck with a view of the golf course. The main dining room can accommodate 90 diners and 14 barflies, the deck another 100. There’s also a private dining room for small (up to 40) parties.
Comfortable as he is in the restaurant milieu, Gloster said he took on the job because it allowed him to scratch two additional itches: “The catering is a challenge,” he conceded, “but there’s nothing like the controlled chaos of having 500 people for cocktails who then all proceed to sit down for dinner.”
The third element at the Lannin is its members-only cigar-and-dining club, The General. (The Lannin takes its name from Joseph J. Lannin, who first developed this land as the Salisbury Golf Club in 1917. The park was rededicated as Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Park in 1969 and The General honors the former President who served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe during World War II.)
The General, located one floor above The Union, is a sprawling club where members can entertain, relax, dine and smoke cigars while they do. What attracted Gloster to this endeavor was not a love of cigars, but the chance to supplement the regular menu, similar to The Union’s, with a roster of large-format “executive orders” that include roasted and stuffed sucking pib, eight-bone standing rib roast, surf-and-turf Wellington and a lobster bake. Membership costs $2,500 for individuals, $10,000 for companies and more than 300 of the 500 spaces are already spoken for.
The Union,1899 Park Blvd., East Meadow, 516-684-9106, theunion.restaurant. Open 5 to 10 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday.